Council advised to refuse permanent planning permission for Gatwick Free School

Crawley Borough Council has been advised not to give the Gatwick School permanent planning permission to conduct lessons from Manor Royal.

Gatwick School (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150713-175101008
Gatwick School (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150713-175101008

The school, in Gatwick Road, opened in September 2014 under one year of permitted development rights, which expire shortly.

The Gatwick School opened five months after Crawley’s first Free School – the Discovery School – was closed by the government following concerns about teaching standards.

A planning application, which was submitted in January, has asked for permission to permanently change the use of the building from offices to a school.

The application also included plans to build a sports hall and external play area.

A report, which will go before the council’s development control committee on Monday (August 3) recommended members refuse the application.

Parking and traffic issues were among the main reasons given for the recommendation.

Concerns were also raised in the report about over-development of the site with a lack of adequate or satisfactory outdoor space for pupils.

The report stated: “There is concern that given the scale of the school proposal and the limited size of the site and its constraints, both on and off site, that the development proposed cannot be satisfactorily accommodated on this restricted site and that the proposal cannot meet the operational needs of this school, as proposed.

“Furthermore, it is considered that the proposal would be detrimental to and have an adverse impact on the character of and economic function of Manor Royal as a Main Employment Area.”

The safety of the children as well as the potential for an increase in traffic levels were among concerns expressed to the council by members of the public.

One person said: “The nearest domestic dwelling is at least one mile away, walking to school is not really an option, so driving the children to school is going to happen whatever travel plan is submitted.

“This would cause a major disruption for vehicles and staff trying to get to work.

“It would also be extremely dangerous to walk to school given the traffic levels.

“This application should be refused, this is an industrial/commercial area used by people to make a living.”

Another said: “I work in this area. Navigating these roads with the buses and industrial vehicles is a nightmare currently, with vehicles often having to reverse backwards to allow large vehicles to pass.

“This situation will only be made worse by the school rush hour, not to mention the danger to those pupils arriving on foot amidst all the traffic.”

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