School expansion plans scrapped after councillors side with 'Carmageddon' campaigners - The Solihull Observer

School expansion plans scrapped after councillors side with 'Carmageddon' campaigners

Solihull Editorial 10th Feb, 2020 Updated: 11th Feb, 2020   0

A DECADE-long scheme to expand a Solihull primary school is set to be scrapped after the council’s planning committee threw out proposals.

St. Augustine’s Catholic Primary School in Whitefields Road, near Solihull town centre, would have had its capacity increased by 236 places, under plans put forward by the council.

But at a planning meeting on February 5, councillors rejected the council’s own proposal – citing traffic and the effect on neighbours.

Residents of Whitefields opposed St Augustine’s growth – dubbing the school expansion plan ‘Carmageddon.’

Speaking after the planning meeting, Coun Ken Meeson, Solihull’s Cabinet member for education, said:“After the decision made at planning committee I will be following the recommendation and agreeing to withdraw the proposal to expand St Augustine’s Catholic Primary.

“There is nothing to debate as the proposal cannot be implemented without planning approval.”

In 2010, a review of school provision in Solihull was organised by the Archdiocese of Birmingham, which found only St Augustine’s had space to expand.

Solihull Council said it looked to expand the school to deliver places for a growing Catholic community in Blythe Valley, Tidbury Green and Shirley.

In May last year, education bosses at the council put forward plans to make St Augustine’s a junior and infants school, doubling in size with a new classroom block to be built.

Campaigner Peter Cogley, reacting to the committee’s rejection, said: “Neighbour relations with the school are now at their worst, with no dialogue.

“The planning committee rebuked the planners for a poor job, and residents were ‘sin-binned’ for muttering and clapping.

“Now parents and kids have reduced choices, parents are hostile to the residents as they play parking-slot lottery, kids breathe fumes from idling engines. For eight months we’ve been writing, lobbying, complaining, arguing.

“I told Coun Meeson on September 25 the elephant in the room was traffic. He spent our taxes on a planning application before he had made up his mind on the education business case. I have been messed about by experts, so to me it looked like he played the process to take a decision off his desk.

“Neither the school nor the Diocese took a turn to state their case for this application, but they were at the back of the room. It was left to the planning officer to stumble through a half-hearted brief. Struggling with numbers and definitions with no-one from the school or Diocese to speak in support. It looked like someone else’s presentation.”

The Archdiocese has been contacted for comment.

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