Decision due on Pakefield High School plans

A FINAL decision on controversial proposals to build a new 900-pupil high school in south Lowestoft will be made later this week.

Suffolk County Council's development control committee will discuss the plans for Pakefield High School at its meeting on Thursday – and members have been recommended to approve the scheme, despite objections from Waveney District Council and Sport England.

The council wants to build the new school on the existing Pakefield Middle School site as part of its school reorganisation, which will see education in Lowestoft switched from three tier to two tier from September next year.

Waveney District Council's own planning committee has already objected, claiming that access is too close to the roundabout at the top of Bloodmoor Road and the proposed building is too large for the site.

As well as the council's official objection, 38 letters of objection have been sent to the county council from local residents, a 492-signature petition has been submitted and 184 names have been added to a separate petition regarding concerns over transport for pupils going to the new school from Kessingland.

Suffolk County Council wants to build the school in three phases, with the first involving a new entrance off London Road, landscaping and new science, music and drama classrooms and an assembly hall being built next to the existing Pakefield Middle School so that it can reopen as a high school in September 2012 – a year later than planned because of delays caused when great crested newts were found living on the site.

A report to the meeting, which will be held at Endeavour House in Ipswich, said: 'The proposed development would provide enhanced learning opportunities for pupils and facilities for the wider community...The siting and design of the building has been carefully considered in relation to neighbouring properties such that there would be no significant loss of residential amenity. The transport assessment has shown that there would be no highway capacity issues as a result of the additional trips generated by the new school. The new access would divert high school staff and visitors from residential streets.'

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Graham Jermyn, chairman of local campaign group Enraged Residents Against School Expansion (ERASE), said he would be going to next week's meeting.

He said: 'We want the opportunity to be heard, so we are trying to get permission to speak at the meeting. Over the past three or four weeks we have been sending weekly bulletins to all the councillors who sit on the development control committee to get our information across, so hopefully this will make a difference.'

Sport England has already lodged an objection because of the loss of playing field space, and if the application is approved against Sport England's viewpoint, the plans will have to be referred to the secretary of state for a decision to be made.