Rejected 'free' school plan for Ingleby Barwick to be looked at again by the Government

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Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Stockton/Hartlepool)

A REJECTED plan to build a new ‘free’ school will be examined again by the Government.

Stockton Borough Council planning committee rejected plans to build a 750 place free school and 350 homes at Ingleby Barwick  because it was on green wedge land.

Now the developers have appealed and the Secretary of State has agreed to have a look.

Worries have been raised that once some houses are built there developers and landowners would then be able to apply to build many more.

Free schools are state schools but out of local authority control. The Labour Party had criticised the policy but has moderated views on the issue and Alex Cunningham, Labour MP for Stockton North, said there’s a case for them if there are not enough school places already available.

However James Wharton, Conservative MP for Stockton South, said: “Stockton’s Labour Council has played politics with the fight to get a new school and continually refused to properly provide Ingleby Barwick with the school places it needs. There are legitimate concerns about how Stockton Council came to the decision it did on this application, turning away millions of pounds worth of investment and a much needed new secondary school in Ingleby Barwick.”

Coun Ross Patterson is leader of the Ingleby Barwick Independents who are in coalition with the Labour Group. He said everyone was in favour of the school, but he wanted to know if the developers had any more plans to build more houses.

Bob Gibson, chairman of the planning committee and the council's former Labour leader, rejected Mr Wharton’s claim and said the planning committee was bound by strict planning rules.

He added that Tory members of the committee had not voted for the plan either, he said.

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