80 homes set for green light despite concerns over primary school places

East Anglian Daily Times
23 September 2019

Plans for 80 homes in Boxford have been recommended for approval despite Suffolk County Council planners saying there will be no surplus places at the catchment primary school.

The proposal, for a mix of two, three, four and five bedroom homes on a 14 acre site east of Sand Hill, has sparked a petition from members of the public, gaining more than 140 signatures.

Concerns have been raised over the negative impact the development may have on the existing infrastructure in the area, specifically the roads and pathways, and the lack of nearby primary school places.

The plans for 80 new homes at land east of Sands Hill, Boxford Picture: THE ENVIRONMENTAL DIMENSION PARTNERSHIP LTD

In the planning report, Suffolk County Council's strategic development contributions manager said it could not guarantee that all pupils from the future development would be able to find places at the nearby catchment primary school.

The report reads: "SCC forecast to have no surplus places at the catchment primary school based on a 95% capacity which is the bare minimum for education authorities to meet this statutory duty with operational flexibility, while enabling parents to have some choice of schools.

"The consequence of approving this development is likely to mean that there will be no strategy for providing additional places in the future for plan-led growth in this area other than the delivery of a new primary school which would require 800 new houses to sustain the school.

"Therefore SCC cannot guarantee that all pupils from the development, should it be approved and built out, will be able to find a place at the catchment primary school."

"SCC will therefore require primary school transport for pupils living in the village or from the development that may get displaced in the short term."

The planning officers conclude: "Whilst there would be some landscape harm this is considered to be mitigated to some degree, and the harm of transporting the potential 20 primary school aged children by bus to school in the short term in the life of this development is not considered to provide sufficient reason to refuse the application."

The application is set to get the green light at Babergh District Council's planning committee on Wednesday, September 25, subject to a £134,000 contribution towards school transport and securing 35% affordable housing.