Go-ahead for all-weather pitch and classrooms at village school
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Approval has been granted for the expansion of a Suffolk school - even though there are concerns that the site is too small.
Suffolk County Council’s development and regulation committee granted planning permission on Thursday morning for three new classrooms and a studio to be built at Elmswell Primary School to allow up to another 105 pupils to attend.
The project will also include a new all-weather pitch, remodelled car park area and relocation of the hardstanding PE area.
According to the council, housing growth in both Elmswell and Woolpit mean the expansion is needed, increasing school capacity from 315 to 420 pupils.
But Elmswell Parish Council and division councillor Andy Mellen both stressed the site was already cramped and only acts as a short-term solution to continued housing growth that meant a new school would be needed in future regardless.
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Mr Mellen said: “If we were building a new school for this number of pupils, this site would not be big enough – it doesn’t meet the standards of space.
“Notwithstanding the excellent leadership and teaching which the school provides, it seems to me that children’s learning experience can only be diminished by being provided in a cramped and crowded site.”
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Parish council clerk Peter Dow added that “the community of Elmswell at large is aghast at this proposal,” and there were “already cramped buildings on an inadequate site offering extremely limited outside space”.
The new classrooms are expected to be open in time for the new school year in September 2022.
Six full-time equivalent posts are expected to be created.
The authority said that a new school in the village is not currently deliverable, with Woolpit being the preferred location for a new primary in future.
Headteacher Jane Ash said: “We believe the proposal will enable us to continue to provide excellent education for an increasing amount of children and in many ways enhance those opportunities.
“Our field is out of use for up to two terms every year for playtime as well as outdoor PE, so the provision of a multi-use games area will offer the opportunity for outdoor PE curriculum throughout the year.”