Recommendation: Conditional Approval
Proposal:Full planning application for the proposed temporary use of the upper floor of school (D1) building to provide office accommodation (B1) for a 5 year period until the school is fully occupied.
Applicant: Wokingham Borough Council
The Committee received and reviewed a report about this application, set out in agenda pages 109 to 120.
The Committee were advised that the Members’ Update included:
· An additional neighbour comment and associated Officer response;
· Additional Travel Plan condition;
· Additional Car Parking Management Condition;
· Additional Travel Plan informative.
Jim Leivers, Assistant Director – Learning, Achievements and Partnerships, spoke in support of the application. Jim stated that the application before the Committee would allow Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) to make efficient use of existing resources by placing various WBC education staff at the site for up to 5 years. Jim added that this application formed a part of the Council’s overall staff accommodation strategy.
Jim Frewin, Ward Member, commented on the application. Jim stated that he was very supportive of the concept of the application making efficient use of WBC property whilst it was surplus to requirements. Jim raised concerns over the safeguarding aspects at the school including external visitors meeting staff, and sought reassurances that these had been considered. Jim queried what the process would be to review whether the upstairs space needed to be used by the school before the five year period concluded.
Connor Corrigan, Service Manager – Strategic Development Locations and Planning Delivery, clarified that staff could not access the school teaching area as this access would be controlled centrally through the school reception. Connor added that, for example, a film could be placed on the windows of the staff section of the building to prevent overlooking of the play areas, however this was an operational matter which could be addressed quickly with any other issues that might arise. Connor stated that as the school was to be under WBC control, should the school need to use the space before the five year time period was up WBC staff would move, this was to be reviewed annually.
Jim Leivers clarified that all staff housed on site would be education staff whom would all be DBS checked.
Gary Cowan raised concerns that the neighbour comment had not been fully considered within the officer report. Gary questioned the conclusion that there was a good bus service at the site, stating that the nearest stop was 0.5 Miles Reading bound, and 0.6 miles Arborfield bound. Simon Weeks stated that as many of the staff were likely to visit pupils within the Borough, they would likely rely on a private vehicle and not public transport.
Simon Weeks proposed that an additional informative be added, stating that the upstairs was to be used either solely by WBC staff or solely as part of the school, and in no circumstances as a mixture of the two. This proposal was seconded and subsequently approved and added to the list of informatives as part of the recommendation.
RESOLVED That application number 191651 be approved, subject to conditions and informatives as set out in agenda pages 109 to 110, additional travel plan and car parking management conditions as set out in the Members’ Update, additional travel plan informative as set out in the Members’ Update, and additional informative regarding usage of the upstairs by either WBC staff or as a part of the school as agreed by the Committee.