Ignoring the advice of planning officers, councillors turned down plans for a new primary school in Hailsham.
The proposal, submitted by East Sussex County Council, was for a school in a residential area off of Ingrams Way.
But residents, who thought it was “a done deal”, were shocked when the plans were rejected by the council’s own planning committee.
In a surprising twist, councillors refused the proposals because of the loss of green space, the traffic impact and the loss of privacy for residents.
“We’re really pleased with how it has gone,” said Sandbanks Way resident Lyn Rennie, after the meeting on Wednesday. He told the committee the plans were “overbearing in the extreme” and would spoil the “peaceful, harmonious quality of life” in the area.
The designs were for a 210-pupil primary school and 38-pupil nursery, run by academy sponsor Lilac Sky. The greenfield site had been earmarked as a school site for decades by Wealden District Council.
But East Sussex councillor Laurence Keeley, for Hailsham, said, “I think Wealden District Council have made a mess of building houses in this area over the years. I do not believe Ingrams Way is the place for a new school.”
Sandbanks Way residents were worried because the proposed building was situated close to their homes, causing concerns about privacy. As the pedestrian access was at Sandbanks Way, there were worries about increased traffic in the area. Plans to site the refuse area near residents’ gardens was blasted as “abhorrent, grossly unfair and downright disgusting” by Kate Burchett.
But Trevor Averre-Beeson, Chief Executive and founder of Lilac Sky Schools which is set to run the school, insisted it will open – whether it is on the Ingrams Way site, or somewhere else in the area.
“We’re obviously disappointed with the decision and a little perplexed,” said Mr Averre-Beeson. “It is a designated site for a school. It is a little confusing.
“The school has to be built somewhere because a need has been identified. It will still go ahead.”