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STAFFORDSHIRE: Plans passed for new carbon neutral school

STAFFORDSHIRE: Plans passed for new carbon neutral school

Image: Lichfield District Council Planning Committee

A new school set to be built on the former Rugeley Power Station site will be one of the first in the UK to be carbon neutral when it opens in 2023.

Construction of the all through school (ATS) is set to start later this year, members of Lichfield District Council’s planning committee heard this week.

It is part of the re-development of land previously occupied by the power station, which is now earmarked for more than 2,000 new homes as well as five hectares (12.3 acres) of employment space.

Once fully open the Rugeley John Taylor School will provide a 52-place nursery, two form entry primary school accommodating up to 472 pupils, a five form entry secondary school with 950 spaces and post-16 sixth form provision for up to 200 students. Up to 107 full time equivalent (FTE) staff will work there.

Detailed plans for the school, as well as a sports hall, tennis courts, all-weather pitches and a grass football pitch, were unanimously approved by the planning committee on Monday (October 4).

Previously committee members have raised concerns about parking provision for parents driving their children to and from school, in light of Staffordshire County Council’s policy not to provide pick up and drop off points on sites.

A school travel plan submitted as part of the latest application stated: “SCC have advised that a formal provision is generally not encouraged as it encourages car travel to and from school; however, where publicly available car parks are available within walking distance of the site then these can be promoted as park and stride locations.

“Three pick-up and drop off parking spaces for the nursery year group are provided in the primary school car park. Parent pick up and drop off could be carried out within the former sports and social club car park to the immediate east of the site; and opportunity for pick up and drop off can also be accommodated in the area of overspill parking that has been identified in order to accommodate overspill event parking and community use during periods of peak occupancy.”

On Monday there were calls for more electric vehicle charging points than the nine earmarked for the car parking areas. In total 110 parking spaces are proposed for the primary and secondary areas, the report said, alongside 33 spaces in the overspill car park.

James Bonner, who spoke in support of the application on behalf of Rugeley Power Ltd, said: “The school will be one of the first in the UK to achieve net zero carbon operation.

“The new school will be delivered very early, with work starting before the end of the year and a targeted opening before September 2023. This reflects the agreement made with the Department for Education, which is helping to fund the project.

“The school will be a focal point in the centre of a sustainable new community. It will help kick start wider regeneration of this key brownfield site.

“Significant new sports provision will be developed which will be shared with the public. This will be provided well in advance of when it would have otherwise been required. It also goes above and beyond the Local Plan requirements, including provision of a sports hall.”

Councillor Diane Evans said: “This is a great opportunity to provide an innovative all-through school and the other opportunities that brings on this power station site, which will contribute towards helping climate change by cutting down travelling and using more sustainable materials.

“At the last meeting people did express concern about children being brought to school in cars but Staffordshire County Council have said it is not their policy to provide pick up and drop off points. I think that is important because if people are living and going to school on the same site there should not be the need to bring children to school.

“I know we will have the argument that parents are going to drop children off on their way to work, but nonetheless it is giving the opportunity for them not to do that and we have got to start somewhere. I think it’s important that from the very beginning it is encouraging walking, cycling or scooters and provision is being made for that on the site.”

Words: Kerry Ashdown, Local Democracy Reporter

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