COUNCILLORS have unanimously backed plans for three new schools in Hartlepool as part of a major £19m investment.
Town schools Manor College of Technology, Barnard Grove Primary School and Holy Trinity C of E Primary School are all going to be re-built under the Government’s multi-million pound Priority Schools Building Programme.
And the plans moved a step closer yesterday after councillors on Hartlepool Borough Council’s planning committee gave their backing to plans inside a packed council chamber.
Plans were agreed despite concerns from some residents about traffic problems at Barnard Grove and issues with an access road for construction traffic while Manor College is revamped.
The first application was for Barnard Grove Primary School and it will see the new build alongside the existing building, and then flatten the original facility when work is complete.
Sinead Turnbull, senior planning officer, presented the report which was recommended for approval, while Ian Cansfield of agents Cundall confirmed that sprinkler systems would be installed inside the school.
There were concerns raised at the meeting though by nearby resident Pat Powell over parking issues and heavy traffic.
Mrs Powell said: “We don’t have any complaints with the school building, people’s concerns are more about parking, refuse and heavy traffic.”
Despite the concerns, the committee unanimously approved the re-build plans. Barnard Grove Primary School is the furthest advanced with their new site expected to be ready by October 2015.
Next up was plans for Manor College of Technology, in Owton Manor Lane. Again the plan is to demolish the existing building and replace it with a new school to accommodate 1,250 pupils plus an extra 26 special educational needs places.
Planning officers stressed the existing school building will remain “fully operational until completion and occupation of the new building,” at which point the existing buildings will be demolished.
In order for the main school building to remain operational during construction there will be access for construction traffic from Ivanhoe Crescent as a “temporary measure”.
But this has caused concern from the three Manor House ward councillors who said children use that area to get to school and raised concerns about their safety.
Labour councillor Marjorie James stressed the ward councillors were “fully on board” with the new school and said it was much-needed but wanted to ensure the safety of the children as well during construction.
But members heard Sport England may object if there was alterations to the access plans, which could see the application referred to the Secretary of State which would add time and put the plans in jeopardy.
Damien Wilson, the council’s assistant director of regeneration, suggested the committee backed the application as it stood and then explore further options with Sport England and the developers.
Coun James added: “It is a school that desperately needs changing. I am comfortable with that Damien has said. I’m pleased that the developers are prepared to go into that discussion.”
Labour councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher said he felt the committee had a “gun to its head” by an outside body calling the shots. Councillor Robbie Payne added that Sport England had been good to Hartlepool in recent years.
Committee members were unanimous in their decision which was “minded to approve” and to delegate responsibility to the planning services manager and chair of planning committee, Labour councillor Rob Cook, in order to come to a “satisfactory outcome”.
The new Manor College of Technology is set to be finished by September 2016.
The Holy Trinity C of E Primary School plans were then unanimously agreed.
The new school, in Crawford Street, will replace a 210 place primary school for five to 11 year olds but with the addition of a new 26 place nursery for three to five year olds.
The new school building will be directly north of the existing school building, which will be flattened and replaced with a multi-use games area, staff parking and outdoor play areas.