Recommendation: Conditional Approval
Proposal: Full application for the proposed erection of a part single, part two storey (double height hall) extension to the south of the existing main block. Refurbishment of existing reception/administration offices; alterations to existing hall to create classrooms, WCs and store; and conversion of existing PE store to group teaching room. Alterations to parking layout to north and south of site and alterations to playing field to include installation of a MUGA (multi-use games area) with ball fence.
Applicant: Wokingham Borough Council
The Committee received and reviewed a report about this application, set out in Agenda pages 47 to 74.
The Committee were advised that the Members’ Update included:
· proposed amendment to Condition 5 Drainage Strategy regarding drainage, and
· clarification regarding the use of the MUGA, to whit that use would be restricted to day time.
Elizabeth Edwards, Resident, spoke against the application, stating that her property was immediately adjacent to the proposed MUGA site and that she had been subject to ongoing issues around flooding and damp due to run off and the difference in level of the existing surface in its relation to her property.
Piers Brunning, Service Manager, Policy, Strategy and Partnerships for Wokingham Borough Council, spoke in favour of the application. He explained how demand for places in Earley Schools had increased due to the influx of young families into the area and that Loddon Primary School had been identified in a recent Task and Finish Group as suitable for expansion. He indicated that it was expected that the additional places would be taken up by pupils who likely lived within walking distance and that the school’s Travel Plan would be updated to take into account the changes in pupil and staff numbers. He stated that the improvements to the school, including a hall, MUGA and several new classes, met all current standards and would provide new and more modern facilities
David Chopping, Ward Member for Earley Ward, spoke in favour of the application, complementing the staff at Loddon Primary School for their work in catering for increasing demand. He also thanked Council staff for their work and professionalism, and stated that the plan was an example of how much could be achieved through communication and co-operation. He acknowledged issues around parking and traffic, but explained that the growth in numbers would only be visible over time as the increase would start in reception and follow through over the following years. He suggested that most of the problems with parking and traffic were due to bad discipline and that measures could be taken to improve this.
In response to Member questions regarding drainage, the Case Officer stated that the MUGA was to be built into the existing hill so would not increase the height differential between the school playing fields and the surrounding properties. She indicated that condition 5 in the update referred to drainage and that any scheme would need to demonstrate that the plan had not made the situation worse. A SuDS plan would need to be agreed prior to development.
In response to Member questions regarding traffic and parking, the Service Manager, Highways Development Management, stated that the standards for parking in relation to numbers of full-time equivalent staff members referred to in the plan could only be applied to the extension, not the existing school, as it was only the extension being considered for planning consent. He indicated that the school’s Travel Plan had only been updated in 2016 and that, as the full expansion would take place over 7 years, the recent travel surveys gave a good base assessment for how travel patterns would proceed throughout the expansion. He stated that parking at schools was a perennial problem and that the planned expansion would not significantly aggravate the situation as alternative modes of travel to the school, other than the car,are already currently good and should continue to improve through further promotion of the Travel Plan.
In response to a question about fire safety and the installation of sprinklers, the Service Manager, Policy, Strategy and Partnerships, stated that the current regulations on the installation of sprinklers only required them to be installed on new schools, not expansions, as this would then require a retro-fit of the whole school.
Resolved: That Application no 170368 be approved subject to the conditions set out in Agenda pages 45 to 74 and the amendment to condition 5 and clarifications as laid out in the Members’ Update.