Cheers as ambitious plans for replacement school clear hurdle

 

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Access for a replacement school on the Rydens site was agreed by borough planners, but other details, including the number of associated houses on the development, is yet to be decided.


Proposals for a new Rydens Enterprise School building in Hersham.

Cheers erupted from the public gallery as councillors agreed to grant outline permission for a replacement senior school to be built in Hersham.

Only the “means of access” for the new Rydens Enterprise School and Sixth Form College has been applied for at this stage, but it was unanimously agreed at Elmbridge’s full planning meeting on Tuesday.

The school wants to built a replacement on the site, along with 296 homes.

The application had already been discussed at a north area planning committee this month.

It was promoted up to Tuesday night’s meeting in the hope that a planning official from Surrey County Council’s highways team would attend.

Councillors and residents had been unhappy about the main access into the school, which included a new turn into the site from Hersham Road, between the current entrance and Beech Close.

But the county’s highways department had raised no objection to the controversial plans.

The sub committee had called for a highways officer to attend the meeting after an alternative roundabout junction was suggested.

On Tuesday, planning and development group manager Dominic Forbes told the meeting that a detailed planning assessment had been carried out, looking at the highways network as a whole and the impact the development would have.

Mr Forbes said the idea of a roundabout was, in his professional opinion, not suitable for the location, as it would be inefficient for traffic flow and not safe that close to a school.

Cllr John O’Reilly said he and Hersham colleagues Mary Sheldon and Roy Green, plus Chris Sadler, chairman of the north area sub committee, had met with school representatives.

They had a second meeting, plus with Mr Forbes and local residents, and views had been put across ‘courteously but firmly’.

“It’s not easy but it’s clear,” he said. “The benefits of this application for the school community and new residents don’t outweigh the concerns, but have to be taken along with the concerns.”

Cllr Green said committee members had to accept what they were being told by the county highways advisor.

“I have to think, are we getting the best advice?” he said. “We are concerned about the size of the housing. We are concerned about the number of houses there. But we are told that it’s the option to make it viable.”

Cllr Green expressed his disapproval that Surrey officials had allowed the school to “get into that state”. He supported the school. “This will provide a much needed new school,” he said.

Cllr Sheldon added: “The children are our future. They are at present educated in temporary buildings. It’s totally unsatisfactory. I have never been against a school being built. It’s been the problem of the access.”

The application was agreed along with a condition to put in a controlled crossing on Hersham Road. It will next be sent to the Secretary of State for final approval.