New school bid sparks scores of objections

Darras Hall First School, Ponteland
Darras Hall First School, Ponteland

Plans to demolish the existing first school at Darras Hall and replace it with a two-storey primary have sparked dozens of objections.

As of yesterday, the scheme, part of the reorganistation of schools in the Ponteland area into a two-tier structure, had attracted more than 80 objections from residents on Northumberland County Council’s planning portal.

The response from Ponteland Town Council highlights the community’s opposition to the switch to a primary and secondary system, but says that ‘a proposal for a more modern school building with improved facilities and additional playing pitches is, however, very welcome’.

It also highlights a number of residents’ concerns, which relate to the new access proposals, flood risk, light pollution and open spaces/playing field.

A planning statement submmited as part of the application explains that the proposed footprint of the new school, for children aged three to 11, will be 1,932 sq m.

Additionally, two small soccer pitches and a 3G pitch are incorporated into the design.

It adds: ‘The proposals include the provision of classrooms and ancillary features such as a main hall, offices, staff room, studios, kitchen, toilets and outside classroom and playing spaces.

‘The new school building will be two storeys in height in order to provide a more sustainable, energy-efficient building than the existing single-storey school.

‘The classrooms are situated along the outside edge of the building on both floors to provide natural lighting and ventilation.’

The new access is one of the issues that has been cited by many objectors.

The report says: ‘Two pedestrian access points will be located from the new principle entrance on Middle Drive leading up to the main school building and will be separate and at opposite ends from the car-parking facilities.’

An additional pedestrian access will be implemented from Broadway, while an existing pedestrian access from Old Station Court to the north will be retained.

The main vehicular access will be from Middle Drive and will be about 4ometres from Linden Way, ‘forming a staggered junction’. The scheme includes 87 parking spaces.

The county council’s capital spending programme, which is set to be approved formally as part of the budget debate on Wednesday, February 22, includes a total of £6.8million for this project – £4.8million in the next financial year and another £2million in 2018/19.