New high school application subject to various concerns

An artist's impression by AHR Architects submitted with the planning application for the new Duchess's Community High School.
An artist's impression by AHR Architects submitted with the planning application for the new Duchess's Community High School.
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Issues relating to roads, flooding and sports pitches need to be ironed out ahead of the next stage of development of Alnwick’s new high school.

A planning application for the rebuilding of the Duchess’s Community High School, at Greensfield, was submitted at the end of July.

It is hoped that the planning consent will be signed off by next month so work can start between December this year and February 2015, meaning the new school would open in September 2016.

But the Highways Agency, which is responsible for the A1, is concerned that the new school is ‘likely to result in traffic build-up at the A1 slip road/A1068 South Road/Willowburn Avenue roundabout’.

It requires further information demonstrating that ‘this junction will continue to operate with a safe capacity by way of a full traffic assessment’,

It also issued a directive that planning permission should not be granted for a six-month period – before February 20 next year, ‘unless the Secretary of State has received sufficient information to enable him to come to a view’.

As of last Thursday, an amended transport statement had been submitted, but there is no response from the Agency or Secretary of State yet.

The county council’s own sustainable drainage systems (SUDS) team has raised an objection too. Its response says that there is no information within the flood-risk assessment regarding any location of detention basins, ponds, pipes, attenuation tanks or other features.

There are also concerns, although not objections, raised by both Alnwick Rugby Club and Sport England, over the provision of sports facilities on the site. The high-school site includes two pitches which have been used by Alnwick RFC for about 30 years.

It wants a community-use agreement in place to ensure that it can use the pitches at the same times that they are used now, that a maintenance agreement is in place and that goalposts and pitch markings are allowed.

In a separate representation, Sport England explains that it will oppose the granting of planning permission for any development which would lead to the loss of playing fields with some exceptions, one being the space being replaced with equivalent or better facilities.

In its representation, the organisation says that it is satisfied that the proposal will be able to satisfy this.

However, it has also consulted with the RFU and FA, both of whom want community-use agreements to ensure the rugby and football clubs have access to the facilities.

Sport England concludes that it does not want to raise an objection, but wants a number of conditions attached to any planning approval.

A county council spokesman said: “We will take the views of all consultees into account when considering the planning application.”

Miller Construction won the contract to build all 12 schools in the North East being funded through the Priority School Building Programme (PSBP), but was acquired by Galliford Try in July.

The Gazette contacted the firm for comment, but no response was available at the time of going to press.