Gatwick School bid rejected by councillors

Gatwick School (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150713-175101008
Gatwick School (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150713-175101008

Councillors have refused to give permanent planning permission for Gatwick School.

Crawley Borough Council’s Development Control Committee rejected the bid on Monday (August 3).

The school, in Gatwick Road, opened in September 2014 under one year of permitted development rights.

Members refused the application to permanently change the use of the building from offices to a school for 1,020 pupils by eight votes to five. A sports hall, parking and external play areas were also proposed.

West Sussex County Council and Sussex Police objected to the plans. Safety concerns were raised over traffic and parking in the Manor Royal business area.

Bill Ward (Lab, West Green) said: “The main issue here coming from the report is the safety access of this school.

“Parking is very difficult and in a school situation most of use realise there’s a space of 45 minutes when cars arrive and drop children off.”

Geraint Thomas (Lab, Northgate) said the school’s proposals for staggering traffic to and from the site ‘almost risible’. He raised concerns over the effect of noise in the area on children’s health.

Mr Thomas said Gatwick School had not shown enough regard for sustainability and added: “There’s been no reference to air quality.”

Peter Smith (Lab, Ifield) said: “The Manor Royal business group are opposed to any non-business use of sites in Manor Royal.

“I’m not always the biggest fan of West Sussex highways so if they think there is a problem with this I’m pretty sure there is and if they identify safety as an issue I think we must treat this with utmost seriousness.”

The meeting heard pupils would be driven in by parents from residential areas in Crawley and Horley.

Members were told that there would be 570 car movements at the school in the morning and afternoon.

Mr Smith said there was a lack of sustainable transport to the school and added: “The school travel plan plans may not be achievable.

“To this idea of having people marshalling cars through the car park, I just don’t see that happening.”

Duncan Crow (Con, Furnace Green) said: “Are we really going to say not quite as many are cycling or walking that we are going to turn this down? I don’t think that’s a really good reason.”

Mr Crow added most of the application’s planning issues could be resolved. He said the county council could impose a traffic regulation order to restrict parking times.

Brenda Burgess (Con, Three Bridges) said: “I would like to remind that the air quality around Hazelwick is above the level of acceptable - there fore I would take it that this school is under threat?”

Tim McCarthy, CEO of Crawley Free School Trust, which runs the school, said: “We fully intend to now apply for a temporary permitted use so we can reassure parents that we will be open for business in September while we continue to work with highways officers so that we can find permanent solutions for the remaining issues.”

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