Plans for a new £20m private school stalls over planning dispute (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Plans for a new £20m private school in Stockton area stalls over planning dispute
PLANS to build a £20m private school have stalled over a dispute involving a planning condition about providing affordable housing.
Red House School in Norton, near Stockton was last year given planning permission by Stockton Borough Council to relocate to a new site at nearby Wynyard.
The school wanted to fund the move by selling its current site for housing development and permission was also granted to build 85 homes on the current site.
However the council stipulated that ten of the new homes must be “affordable,” which means they must be sold at a cheaper price than the other 75 or put up for rent at rates below the area’s usual value.
The school objected and lodged an appeal, but now a government planning inspector has upheld the council planning committee’s decision.
Vinay Bedi, chair of the school council, has issued a letter to all parents of the school, which has about 440 pupils paying between £1,620 a term for nursery pupils to £3,240 a term for secondary school students.
In the letter Mr Bedi criticised the council but said the move would eventually go ahead. He said: “Your governors, the headmaster and our professional advisors are all amazed by this decision (by the planning inspector).
"Unfortunately, Stockton Borough Council has taken the view that our planned relocation would still be able to proceed regardless of our submissions to them, over many meetings, that the affordable housing issue would be a step too far for our financing arrangements.
"In essence, the inspector and Stockton Borough Council consider the provision of ten affordable houses in Norton to be of greater economic importance and relevance to the region than the prospect of a major investment scheme estimated at £20m.”
An official statement issued by the school said the school still intended to eventually relocate and grow in size and was “looking at ways forward.”
A spokeswoman for Stockton council said the authority had co-operated with the school and explained that affordable homes would need to be provided from the outset.
She said: “The council asked an independent valuer to carry out a full viability assessment of the proposed housing development which demonstrated that it could support the required provision of affordable housing.
"Despite this evidence, Red House School chose to pursue a development which did not meet the affordable housing requirement.”
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