Free school head vows to overturn Sheffield council decision

0
Have your say

Sheffield’s first free school suffered a setback this week when councillors voted to reject plans to secure its location.

Sheffield’s first free school suffered a setback this week when councillors voted to reject plans to secure its location.

The proposals for Chapeltown Academy, on Hydra Business Park, were recommended for approval by officers who felt that its benefits outweighed the loss of an industrial unit and highways concerns.

But in Tuesday’s meeting councillors raised concerns about the ‘unsuitable’ location, potential road safety problems and whether approving the plans could set a precedent for the site, which was designated for industrial use.

It was heard that any future developments there would have to ‘co-exist’ with theestablishment, which aims to be a centre of excellence and opened to pupils in September.

It is currently operating under one year’s permitted development rights.

Coun Peter Price told the committee: “It’s the last place I would put a school to be honest, an industrial site away from housing.”

The meeting heard there had been no interest to use the site for industrial purposes.

Academy headteacher Rebecca Maxted told councillors that surveys had shown pupils, parents and staff felt ‘extremely safe’.

She stressed that businesses on the park included architects and interior designers rather than just heavy industry.

Now she and school governors have vowed to overturn the decision.

Ms Maxted said after the meeting: “We can reassure our staff, students and prospective students that this decision will be overturned and we will be in our new premises in September.”

The academy has not been without critics and is part of the flagship Government free school programme.

Ms Maxted said previous concerns had ‘always turned out to be misguided’ and tried to prioritise ‘political ends’. The decision was ‘wrong’.

“Our focus is on our students and their education and nothing will get in the way of that”, she added.

Planning committee chair Coun Alan Law did not take part in the debate or vote as his grandaughter goes to the school.