Agenda item

20/01273/FUL Thames Park School

Minutes:

The report was presented by Genna Henry.

 

The Vice-Chair commented that school places were needed in the Borough. He noted that the proposals did not fully meet the requirements of the NPPF and that the design consultant was not ‘100% happy’ with the proposals as well. He questioned if the identified shortfalls would be addressed. Matthew Gallagher answered that design issues usually cropped up with school developments as the NPPF highlighted good designs in developments but new school developments usually had tight budget constraints. The report highlighted this and along with the Green Belt harm, these were balanced against the benefits of the scheme delivering new school places that were needed by September 2022. He explained that the Applicant was using modern methods construction as it was more sustainable and helped to keep costs down.

 

The Committee agreed to suspend standing orders to enable the Agenda to be completed.

 

Referring to paragraph 5.15, Councillor Potter sought more detail on the objection raised. Matthew Gallagher explained that the in-house Urban Designer had suggested improvements to the scheme which included the internal layout; teaching environment; and some of the outdoor spaces which would require ground work to be undertaken to enable the site to be in a useable state.

 

The Chair noted that a lot of excavation work would be required to flatten the back of the site for outdoor sport facilities and questioned whether there would be issues of subsiding. He also highlighted concerns on potential future issues of having the outdoor sports facilities on a steep decline particularly if there were money constraints. Matthew Gallagher mentioned that the report covered HGV movements that would be part of the excavation works and subject to these conditions, Highways England did not object. He also mentioned that due to the changing levels of the site, there was a flood risk and conditions were in place to control surface water drainage. In regards to subsidence, he referred to conditions 21 and 22 that covered issues of ground conditions. He said that no properties could potentially be affected by subsidence as the playing fields were constrained by the road network.

 

Councillor Sammons questioned what the school’s catchment area was. She commented that students from East Tilbury went to the USP College by buses that were not consistent with school times and questioned how pupils would get to the proposed school if they were travelling from East Tilbury. Matthew Gallagher answered that most schools were now academies that set their own admissions criteria and that distance from the school was included in this so the catchment could potentially be the immediate area of Grays. He referred to page 147 of the Agenda which addressed transport and traffic issues and paragraph 7.80 outlined the bus routes that served the area. It was expected that pupils would walk to school if the catchment was local or take a bus due to the age group of the school but there was an on-site car park that had 18 drop-off and pick-up spaces. He mentioned that the on-site car park was 93 which met the draft standards requirement of 60 for that development. There was also a planning obligation under the s106 that would enable the Council’s Highways Team to amend the parking controls locally. He also referred Members to pages 160 - 161 of the Agenda that outlined conditions that addressed transportation and highways.

 

Councillor Lawrence questioned the application could change in the future to add a sixth form onto the site. She said that if there years 12 and 13, pupils in these years could be driving into the school and was concerned that there would be parking issues. Matthew Gallagher answered that the Applicant had no intention to change the proposals to include a sixth form as secondary schools were needed now. He explained that if the plan was to change, it would be subject to planning permission.

 

Referring to the Car Parking Allocation Plan, the Chair noted the proposed drop off and pick up points in the car park. He pointed out that people would not necessarily go into the car park to use these as they may not be able to come back out. He stated that the service needed to be aware that people would park up on the side of the road outside to drop pupils off which was already happening with pupils attending the USP College. He felt that this issue would need to be revisited and considered in the future as this was a very busy road. He noted that along the road were a number of grass verges which he said could be turned into lay-bys instead. He asked what mitigation measures could be put in place to prevent a traffic blockage particularly with the recent approval of the development on Woodview. He highlighted that double yellow lines or enforcement was not the desired option.

 

Julian Howes explained that off street parking along that road was not possible due to the visibility splays through the grass verges. It was also be inappropriate due to the additional vehicle movements outside of the school entrance where vehicles would be manoeuvring into the junction of Woodview and Chadwell Road. He said that Highways had been concerned on potential parking outside the school and had asked for the drop off and pick up spaces in the car park. Highways had also asked for a car parking management plan that showed the school’s time management for year groups coming in to avoid congestion and ensure a one way system around the car park. The Chair referred to the use of lay-bys at the Harris Academy and Julian Howes said that the plan of Harris Academy differed to the current site for Thames Park School. Matthew Gallagher added that a lay-by along the road had a number of safety issues and would require a number of safety measures to be implemented which could become difficult.

 

A speaker statement in support of the application was heard from Paul Griffiths, Applicant’s Representative.

 

Referring to the site plan, the Chair noted a ‘zigzag pathway’ in part A and part D and questioned if this was due to the changing levels of the site. He asked whether a solution could be provided to ensure that students did not cross the grass space next to the pathway as people usually did this and it caused an untidy appearance to the grass space. Matthew Gallagher confirmed that it was and that the pathway was for disability users and would need the gradients requirements to be compliant with disability regulations. He said that a planning condition could be considered to ensure people did not use the grass space as a shortcut.

 

Referring to Marshfoot Road that was at the bottom of the school, the Chair commented that this would be an undesirable drop off point as it was busy road in a residential area. He asked whether traffic measures were anticipated here to ensure the safety of pupils in case they were dropped off here. Julian Howes answered that the access there was for pupils who would be walking in from the local area. He went on to say that parking controls would be implemented at a later date to prevent inappropriate parking there.

 

Councillor Rice commented that the scheme was welcomed and much needed in the lower part of Grays. The Chair said that he was supportive of the scheme but asked that a planning condition be included to ensure that a traffic management system was in place to monitor the road of Woodview and that if this became a problem, it would be addressed. Leigh Nicholson said that one of the conditions in the report would be amended to reflect the Chair’s point. Matthew Gallagher added that the condition on car parking management or the travel plan could be amended to include the clause on traffic monitoring.

 

Councillor Rice proposed the Officer’s recommendation to approve and was seconded by the Vice-Chair.

 

FOR: (9) Councillors Tom Kelly, Mike Fletcher, Gary Byrne, Colin Churchman,

Angela Lawrence, Dave Potter, Gerard Rice, Sue Sammons and Sue Shinnick.

 

AGAINST: (0)

 

ABSTAINED: (0)

 

Supporting documents: