Agenda item

14/01060/R3FUL - Thorpe Primary School, Atherstone Avenue, Netherton, Peterborough


The planning application was for the partial infill of the existing courtyard, a single storey rear extension and erection of a detached single storey teaching block at Thorpe Primary School. Also included in the application was associated alterations to the car park at the front of the site and an extension of the car park to the rear.


The main considerations were:

·    The Principle of Development

·    Highways Impacts and Car Parking

·    Design and Layout

·    Landscape Impacts

·    Ecological Issues

·    Construction Management

·    Other Matters


It was officer’s recommendation that planning permission be granted, subject to the conditions set out in the report and update report.


Principal Development Management Officer provided an overview of the application and raised the following key points:

·         It was considered that the trees populating the boundary of the site were worthy of a Tree Preservation Order (TPO).

·         The number of pupils was to increase to 680, with the number of teaching staff to increase to 92.

·         During construction works for the car park, access would be gained by Atherstone Avenue. Construction access in relation to building works would be from Ledbury Road.

·         The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) places weight on the need to expand schools.

·         The main basis for objection was in relation to traffic. A transport assessment identified that a lot of journeys to the school were made by car.

·         No objection had been raised by the Highways Authority. It was accepted that congestion would occur, but this did not result in any concerns for safety.

·         Methods to improve traffic have been informally explored, with consideration given to a possible lay by included in the scheme. However, it was believed that this would ultimately result in more congestion and was not supported by the Highways Authority.

·         The design was considered acceptable. Several alterations to conditions had been outlined in the update report, in response to comments from the Arboricultural Officer.


Councillors Arculus and Councillor Fitzgerald, Ward Councillors, addressed the Committee and responded to questions from Members. In summary the key points highlighted included:

·         The principle of development was not objected to, however the Councillors had concerns regarding traffic access.

·         The current amount out of traffic created by the school and residents was unsustainable and an increase of 540 journey would not be feasible.

·         More thought needed to be put into coming up with a ‘kiss and ride’ solution.

·         The policy of requesting travel plans was not workable and would not be enforced, as the travel plan currently in place had no great affect.

·         More consideration should be given to alternative traffic management proposals.

·         It appeared that protecting trees was of greater importance than people’s safety.

·         The Councillors felt that more traffic would result in a higher risk of accidents happening.

·         A ‘drop off’ system would help to alleviate the congestion in the morning rush.


Mr Peter Flewers addressed the Committee in objection to the application and responded to questions from Members. In summary the key points highlighted included:

·         The school provided sufficient places for the families within walking distance. Expansion should be considered in areas where it is really necessary.

·         The additional cars that would result from expanding the school would have a significant impact on the environment, which goes against the City’s aim of becoming an environment capital.

·         Additional traffic would worsen an already difficult situation and would increase risk of accidents. Mr Flewers considered the accident report was flawed, as more traffic would result in more accidents.

·         It was requested that, if the Committee didn’t feel they could refuse the application, it be deferred to enable them to observe the traffic problems in the area.


Mr Brian Howard, Head of Schools Infrastructure, and Emma Everitt, Project Support Officer, addressed the Committee in support of the application and responded to questions from Members. In summary the key points highlighted included:

·         Consultation was undertaken with all the relevant stakeholders at the beginning of the process.

·         Guidance was received suggesting that highways matters did not need to be considered.

·         ‘Sketch’ options for traffic mitigation were drawn up, however these were not developed on the advice of Planning and highways.

·         A delay in a decision on the planning application would result in a delay in the entire programme of three to six months. Cost would also be incurred on any temporary accommodation for additional pupils from September 2015.

·         Alteration to the submitted scheme were possible, but would have significant implications.

·         The increase in pupils would be done incrementally and would take about six years.

·         The school caters for infants and, as such, a drop of zone would not be appropriate for all situations, as parents parked and walked their children to the school buildings.


In response to questions raised by the Committee, the Senior Engineer raised the following key points:

·         The accident report was considered reasonable. Most accidents were registered with the police and there is nothing to suggest that there was a risk to individual’s safety in the area.

·         There was a problem with congestion, which was more difficult to solve.

·         A significant number of car parking spaces would be required. While 40 / 50 spaces could feasibly be provided at the front of the site, this would mean concreting over the front of the site and may attract more cars nearer the school.

·         Similarly, with a drop off scheme, this may attract more cars to come closer to the school instead of spreading out over a larger area. This is why the drop off / pick up options were not supported.


The Committee discussed the application and whether more could be done to mitigate the additional traffic the school expansion would attract. Although several Members suggested that a drop off system would be unfeasible, it was considered that the problem of additional congestion should be considered in greater detail. It was believed that this site in particular presented a more significant problem than other school sites in the city.


The Planning and Highways Lawyer advised the Committee that the applicants were not required to mitigate pre-existing traffic problems, only that which was caused by the application.


A motion was proposed and seconded to defer the application to allow for more detailed exploration of traffic mitigating measures. The motion was carried eight in favour, two against.


RESOLVED: (eight voted in favour, two voted against) that the planning application be DEFERRED


Reasons for the decision


In order for officers to explore possible traffic mitigation measures in greater detail.


Supporting documents: