CONTROVERSIAL redevelopment plans for Kineton High have been granted despite fears over their potential impact on surrounding residents.
The project to demolish and redevelop the Banbury Road school received more than 50 objections, mainly concerning the planned sports block which it is feared will impose on neighbouring homes.
The application from developer Wates, on behalf of the Department of Education, includes the demolition of existing school buildings and redevelopment of a two-storey science block, a new sports block, a multi-use sixth form and space to replace existing mobile classrooms.
It is part of a £60million project to improve three of the county’s secondary schools using funding from the government’s school rebuilding pot.
Councillors in the area believe the proximity of the proposed sports hall to nearby homes goes against policies in Stratford District Council’s (SDC) Core Strategy – the planning blueprint for future development.
Kineton ward councillor Christopher Mills said: “The hall will significantly dominate homes. The proposed siting has already had detrimental effect on residents of Shortacres and is already causing a great deal of distress on the thoughts of having a metal clad block looming over them like a malevolent presence.
“Having this lump of a building at the bottom of their gardens will blight lives of residents forever.”
Other concerns included noise from the hall, antisocial behaviour in an identified ‘blindspot’ where there is a lack of windows, and scepticism over traffic management programmes.
A representative from Wates said the developer was committed to keeping construction traffic away from the village centre.
And head teacher Helen Bridge told the committee the school was in desperate need of redevelopment and that it could not afford to delay plans.
She said: “I believe the designs offer an inspiring environment in which to learn and fully represent the ambition the staff and parents and students for schools in our community.
“A year on from starting planning, we still have to ask our kids to help catch water when it rains heavily, there are doors and window frames we can put our fingers through and the interim building is nearing the end of its life.
“The need to start construction is now urgent.
“The plans maximise the playing fields behind the school and provide more space for students to socialise and play. The proximity to the school area is easier for supervision. The plans allow optional spaces available for the PE curriculum.”
She added its sustainable design would support the environment and be in keeping with concerns of the community, and that the sports hall would provide a new venue for secondary community use.
SDC’s Planning Committee unanimously voted in favour of the plans.
Committee chair Peter Richards concluded: “The proximity of the sports block to houses along the street to the west has been considered in every opportunity that we’ve had. Our officers have been very clear about the gaps between those buildings and required minimum standards and these are met.
“I can see no reasons why we should or could go against this. We have to give great way to the redevelopment of schools.”