St John's sixth form go-ahead despite parking fears

Dr Patrick Hazlewood

An artist’s impression of the new centre

First published in News

St John’s Academy in Marlborough has been given the go-ahead for its £1.19m sixth form centre despite neighbours’ fears over extra parking.

But a planning meeting heard on Thursday that 20 car parking spaces could be made available at Postern House, less than 200 yards away from the development.

The former day centre is owned by Wiltshire Council and now the council is looking into the feasibility of it being used by the school.

At the eastern area planning committee meeting at The Corn Exchange, Devizes, on Thursday, Wiltshire councillor Richard Gamble said there is a strong possibility that the former Wiltshire Council education facility could be used for student parking until it is redeveloped.

Since the application was first submitted, the school has adjusted its plans to increase the provision of new car parking spaces from four to 15 with 15 existing spaces being made available for car share only.

Around 20 neighbours were at the meeting.

Alec Light, who lives in nearby Cherry Orchard, said: “We are disappointed of course but we did get some concessions on parking so hopefully the issue will be resolved. But we think the school area is big enough to have parking.

“We’ve had some response from the school but we still need to be in contact with them because in the past they haven’t been very community minded.

“We have talked about residents’ parking in the past but it’s very expensive so I don’t think we’ll ever get it, but it is a possibility.”

Neighbours were annoyed when the meeting was told the school’s travel plan is out of date and the new one will not be ready until March 2015.

Marlborough town councillor Justin Cook, who spoke at the meeting, said: “The decision went the only way it could have gone because nobody wanted the school to lose its funding.

“If I was to apply for a planning application I would be expected to have all my documents up-to-date, so there seems to have been a clear disregard here for due process.

“The community saw that the town council was behind them and that’s the most important thing.”

If the planning application had not been granted, funding from the Education Funding Agency for the project would have been lost.

Currently the academy has the capacity to cater for 1,500 students and is over subscribed by approximately 120 pupils but now the school will be able to offer an extra 110 places.

St John’s headteacher Dr Patrick Hazlewood, who was not at the meeting, said: “I am delighted our application was unanimously approved by the councillors, and am grateful for the huge level of support we received from so many local people, including parents of both current and future students. The new study centre will enable us to offer 110 more local sixth form places, so that more local students can remain here in Marlbor-ough for their education.”

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