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Route 39 academy temporary school plans rejected by Torridge councillors

By NDJNews  |  Posted: May 09, 2013

How the temporary school building could look.

How the temporary school building could look.

Comments (3)

Councillors have rejected plans for North Devon's first free school's temporary site.

Torridge District Council's planning committee turned down the application on the grounds of sustainability and highways issues by five votes to three.

Route 39 Academy hopes to open at the Milky Way, a family attraction off the A39 near Bideford, as a temporary measure before moving to a permanent site at Steart Farm in Bucks Cross.

The free school was given the go ahead by the government last year.

But Devon County Highways, as a statutory consultee of the planning application, said the proposed access to the site was not suitable - because of the remote location and the unsafe nature of the parent pick up/drop off point and the combination of the attraction's traffic as well as the school's.

Highways have also outlined the unsuitable nature of construction traffic being mixed with visitor traffic to the Milky Way and the need to upgrade the A39 to cater for the extra number of coaches using the route to reach the school.

Robin Edmonds, chairman of Woolsery parish council, said the travel plan for the site contained “questionable assumptions” and “misleading statements.”

He also said the location was unsustainable and commented that Woolsery and Bucks Cross did not have road wide enough to accommodate extra traffic generated by Route 39.

David Fitzsimmons, the principal of Holsworthy Community College, also spoke at the meeting to object to the plans.

He said secondary schools in Devon currently receive £4,000 per pupil and that for every pupil the school loses, the money follows.

He also stated the four secondary schools in the area are not at full capacity.

“In terms of sustainability I am struggling to see why we are about to set up a fifth secondary school,” he added.

“72 per cent of my pupils come to school by bus and that is a heck of a draw on the county council.

“I would argue this is the wrong kind of school in the wrong area at the wrong time.”

Richard Bence also spoke at the meeting, declaring himself as the chair of governors at Route 39, before a member of the public gallery shouted: “As elected by who?”

He went on to confirm 60 per cent of the places at Route 39 have already been taken before there were any classrooms to be viewed.

“We have already demonstrated we are viable,” he said. “Recently we ran a consultation and received 777 responses.”

But he accused schools of briefing staff to sway the consultation against Route 39.

He added: “I believe approving Route 39 will demonstrate Torridge has the vision to develop.”

Councillors then had the chance to speak about the application, which split opinion.

Councillor David Lausen spoke against the application, saying: “It is nonsense to be going where they are going. I do not blame people for wanting to go after this money, but it is not free. It is taking money off the tax payer.”

But councillor Chris Leather said members needed to remember the application had to be determined on planning grounds, not education policies.

He said: “What we are faced with is a planning issue. To put these buildings there for three years is not a problem.”

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3 comments

  • MartenG  |  May 09 2013, 2:43PM

    The three local schools covering the Route 39 area have spare capacity of 1300 (yes: one thousand three hundred). The people behind this proposal are intending to spend millions of tax-payers' money on this scheme. Their quoted aims are nothing new or different. They are prepared to grab millions of tax-payers' money which should be being spent on health and roads (to name just two North Devon under-funded aspects). ASBOs are frequently issued against those who persistently show a selfish attitude - just grabbing what they want for their own purposes with no regard for the consequences for other people. Do you want your child to be educated by people who grab tax-payers' money with no regard for the consequences and against the free school policy of only providing them where capacity is needed? Teach your child to be selfish and have no regard for the consequences? The people behind this theft and misdirection of funds can only be doing so for their own selfish reasons and for their own self-agrandisement. They clearly have no concept of collaboration, cooperation and respect for others. I wouldnt let them near my children.

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  • NDJNews  |  May 09 2013, 1:53PM

    Apologies Biddyboys, you are quite correct. The article is being amended now.

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  • Biddyboys  |  May 09 2013, 12:59PM

    David Fitzsimmons did not say local secondary schools were at full capacity - he in fact stated that the local schools were nowhere near full capacity, hence the fact that there is absolutely no justification in spending additional educational funds adding to the surplus of school places in the area. Please ensure that you report these matters accurately, as some people are bound to use your reports to spread disinformation about this very serious issue.

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