Responses to the plan for a new primary school in Ottery and an accompanying housing development continue to mount up, with objections vastly outweighing those in favour.
The consultation on the proposed replacement for Tipton Primary School ends on Sunday, August 23, after being extended by East Devon District Council (EDDC).
The proposal, by Devon County Council (DCC), is for a 210-pupil primary school on land it owns opposite Barrack Farm, along with a development of up to 150 homes which would fund the £7.2million school.
DCC argues that the existing school is in a flood risk area and has to be relocated; that there is no suitable site in the village, and that there is a need for extra primary school places in Ottery St Mary.
So far 122 objections have been submitted, and 14 expressions of support.
The over-riding message from respondents is that the proposed site was designated in the Ottery and West Hill Neighbourhood Plan as being suitable for community and education use, but protected from housing, and that the plan for new homes should be scrapped.
Most objectors say Ottery St Mary already has too much new housing and no more is needed. Concerns are expressed about extra traffic on already busy roads, and additional pressure on health and leisure services. The over-riding feeling among objectors is that the housing development is unwelcome. Some say it is not needed to fund the new school, as the cost of rebuilding Tipton Primary should come from the Government’s School Building Fund.
Objectors to the housing scheme also dispute the suitability of the land for development. Devon County Council and its building consultants state that the part of the site earmarked for construction is in a low flood risk area. But many respondents say building on it could cause problems with water run-off, and increase the risk of flooding to lower lying properties on Cadhay Lane and the Thorne Farm estate.
Some respondents argue that Tipton Primary School should remain in the village, saying its loss will be disastrous for the community. But many agree that its current buildings are not fit for purpose, and believe all attempts to keep it in Tipton have already been explored.
In response to the comments made during the consultation, a spokesman for Devon County Council said:
“We are well aware of the very complex issues surrounding this application and the difficult decision that planners will have to make.
“However there is a clear and demonstrable need for the flood-threatened Tipton St John primary school to be relocated.
“There is also a clear and demonstrable need for a new primary school in Ottery St Mary where there are currently around 100 more children of primary school age than the local school can accommodate.
“Our application also provides that almost one third of the proposed new houses should be affordable which would be of significant community benefit to the town.
“We are also proposing that a large part of the site is set aside for public green space with more land being managed for ecological benefit.
“The agreed plan for the area allocates land for education and community use and it is our contention that all of these benefits should be taken into account in deciding the application.”
Ottery Town Council will discuss its response to the application on Thursday, September 3, with the final decision to be made by EDDC.