Revised proposals for a replacement school building in Chailey have been given the go-ahead by Lewes planners.
On Wednesday (March, 13), Lewes District Council’s planning committee approved proposals to build a modern two-and-three-storey structure at Chailey School in Mill Lane, replacing its existing main building.
Similar proposals had been rejected by planners last year due to concerns around its design and impact on neighbours.
Before making a decision the committee heard from Chailey School headteacher Helen Key, who argued the existing school building was ‘unfit for purpose’.
“We have had no heat to parts of our main building all winter, this winter.
“We had temperatures close to freezing in teaching areas and in our main hall and in our canteen.
“Our infrastructure is old.
“When we replace one part of the heating, something else will break.
“When we replace one part of the electricity network, something else will break.
“We have to source our spare parts second hand, often from abroad, often that takes months.
“We have got asbestos throughout our building and that compromises what we can do with it.
“In the nearly three years I have been at the school these issues have been constant.
“They have affected the students and they have affected my staff.”
Ms Key added that the repairs had to come from her school budget at a time they were ‘very tight’.
The committee also heard from planning agents acting on behalf of the school and several neighbours who raised concerns about the impact of the proposed building and works.
Following the first application, the committee heard, developers had made significant amendments to the design, lowering the building’s overall height and moved it away from the school’s boundaries.
But, for some committee members, the amendments did not go far enough.
Cllr Graham Amy (Lib Dem. – Newhaven Denton and Meeching) said:
“I have to say I am still very concerned with how close this building is going to be to the neighbours.
“It seems to me that it is basically being done on the cheap.
“East Sussex County Council haven’t got the money.
“I welcome the fact there is a new school and I give congratulations to the head and the teachers and the pupils for all their hard work.
“But it seems to me, with my O-level in Lego building, that I could have made a square building there that would not upset any of the neighbours.”
Other councillors also raised concerns about the impact of the building works on neighbours and on the surrounding area.
Cllr Richard Turner (Con. – Ouse Valley and Ringmer) said:
“I go past this school on a regular basis and the road is absolute chaos.
“I have to say it is unfortunate we have got three major developments in this road all at the same time [although] it is not a planning matter.
“The building is an improvement on the last grotty warehouse we saw [but] I would have loved to have seen it moved over further.
“I am going to reluctantly vote for this, but I think it could have been improved even more.”
While some voiced concerns about the revised design, overall the committee felt the benefits of the revised scheme outweighed the drawbacks and voted seven to three to grant planning permission.
(By Huw Oxburgh – Local Democracy Reporter)