Crawley free school’s ‘delight’ as temporary permission secured

The Gatwick School in Manor Royal was granted temporary permission for use of the buildings for two years
The Gatwick School in Manor Royal was granted temporary permission for use of the buildings for two years

Staff at a Crawley academy school are ‘delighted’ at being granted temporary permission for its site for another two years.

The Gatwick School, which is a free school, opened in former office buildings in Manor Royal off Gatwick Road back in September 2014 under one year permitted development rights granted by the Government.

Its bid for permanent permission was rejected by Crawley Borough Council’s Development Control Committee in August this year, due to safety concerns over traffic and parking.

But the school’s second application for temporary use of the buildings for two years was approved on Monday.

After the meeting, Paul Reilly, executive head at The Gatwick School, said: “We are very pleased and delighted.

“We are providing a good education, we can grow pupil numbers and this will enable us to carry on in the vein we have started over the last two years.”

It is aiming to become a full ‘through school’ catering for children between four and 16, and while the first application was for a maximum of 1,020 pupils, the second was for a maximum of 440 for the 2016/17 academic year.

Cllr Duncan Crow (Con, Furnace Green) said the issues raised back in August were now not strong enough to stop them granting approval.

But Cllr Geraint Thomas (Lab Northgate) continued to raised concerns about the school’s location in a ‘cramped, congested, noisy and air polluted’ location, and described it as a ‘depressing anti-educational environment’.

Cllr Bill Ward (Lab, West Green) said that while the safety risk may have been reduced, he argued the risk was still there.

Other councillors felt temporary permission would eventually lead to permanent permission. It was pointed out the committee had to consider what was in front of it purely on planning grounds.

The officers’ report stated that the longer-term position regarding the permanent operation of the school is currently the subject of separate pre-application discussions.

Currently one of the building’s ground floor has been converted to ten classrooms with studio, library and entrance lobby.

To accommodate the additional pupils for 2016/17, the school would convert the first floor to provide six extra classsrooms, two science labs, an assembly hall, drama, music and food science/DT classrooms and staff rooms.

Related stories:

Gatwick School bid rejected by councillors

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