Academy's sixth form centre plans approved despite West Bedlington Parish Council objection
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St Benet Biscop Catholic Academy applied for planning permission to build a new study centre at the school, replacing some dated mobile classrooms, to increase its sixth form capacity from 140 to 200.
Despite an objection from West Bedlington Parish Council to the plans, council officers green-lit the project, estimated to cost £2m.
In their report on the application, planning officers said: “The proposed development will provide an improvement to the quality of the education facility in Bedlington, which is a main town and where such services are of significant importance.”
The report added that the building, which will include study areas, a common room, a cafe, and dedicated sixth form classrooms, will “improve the visual amenity of the area.”
The school previously said it was important that sixth formers “have a part of the school that is their own” and that the new facilities will allow them to “attract students from around the local area.”
Once the new building is complete, the current sixth form area will be used as teaching space for pupils across the school’s year groups.
West Bedlington Parish Council said, although it “welcomes investment in education,” it would not support the application unless it closed the school’s Ridge Terrace entrance and included a turning circle to allow the Netherton Lane entrance to become two way.
It said: “We must continue to maintain our position that school transport is a major issue with this school.
“We have seen in the schools last development that the access caused major issues for construction traffic and we would not wish to see this happen in this application or in future.
“This issue has been present for many years. Residents and the town council would like to see the issue resolved in this application to finally bring the issue to an end.”
County planners disagreed, insisting there is not enough space on the site to create a turning circle and that the access lane and entrance was “too narrow” for two-way bus traffic.
They labelled the demands impractical, likely to cause congestion, and “potentially dangerous,” as well as unrelated to the sixth form centre plans, and dismissed the concerns.