Plans to rebuild Newton Poppleford school approved

Proposals for a new school building at Newton Poppleford Primary School

Proposals for a new school building at Newton Poppleford Primary School - Credit: Archant

Plans to rebuild the 140-year-old Newton Poppleford Primary School have been approved, despite concerns about the impact on the playing fields.

The design for the rebuilt Newton Poppleford Primary School

The design for the rebuilt Newton Poppleford Primary School - Credit: Archant

Sport England objected to the development, but East Devon District Council (EDDC) said the ‘significant community benefits’ outweighed the failure to deliver a new nine-a-side pitch.

The Government’s Education Funding Agency (EFA) is set to pay for the demolition of the Victorian premises and the rebuild, a project estimated in 2014 to cost between £2.5million and £3million.

Sport England, a statutory body, objected on the grounds that the development would split the existing grassed playing field and because an EDDC assessment showed the Sidmouth sub-area needs a nine-a-side pitch, which could have been delivered on the site.

It referred the matter to Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, but he decided not to ‘call in’ the application and left it to EDDC.

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There were also objections to the design, slammed by one resident as a ‘carbuncle’ on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

District councillor Val Ranger said parents were ‘saddened by the destruction’ of the Victorian red brick building, while staff had raised concerns to her about the lack of office space. The parish council backed the plans, but also said the design should better fit the AONB.

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Devon County Council noted issues with parking restrictions in School Lane not being obeyed, but said this was a matter for police enforcement and driver education, rather than deficiencies in the current road safety measures.

Headteacher Stuart Vaughan previously said the EFA cash would not go far enough to improve the access.

Assessing the plans, an EDDC officer said that while the design of the new building lacks the ‘grace and historic detailing’ of the existing school, it is ‘of its time’ and will provide a good learning environment.

Regarding Sport England’s concerns, the officer said a nine-a-side pitch could potentially be accommodated – but this could require such engineering to render the project unviable and result in the provision of a new school not occurring.

Recommending approval, the officer said Sport England’s concerns did not outweigh the ‘significant community benefits’ that arise from the school’s redevelopment.

Permission was granted under delegated powers.

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