More delays for new Rugby secondary school building after planning decision deferred over noise concerns

Rugby Free Secondary School parents and pupils show support for the Rokeby Field schools plan in 2017. Photo courtesy of Donna McCrae
Rugby Free Secondary School parents and pupils show support for the Rokeby Field schools plan in 2017. Photo courtesy of Donna McCrae

Building work on two new Rugby schools is facing further delays after councillors at Warwickshire County Council’s Regulatory Committee deferred making a decision on key elements of the scheme.

Outline proposals for a secondary school and special education needs school in Rokeby were approved last year. Those plans will see the demolition of the former infants school on Anderson Avenue which currently houses Rugby Free Secondary School.

Campaign group SHARE which raised concerns about the proposals for the new school building.

Campaign group SHARE which raised concerns about the proposals for the new school building.

But key details in the plans put forward have met with massive opposition with objections coming from Rugby Borough Council’s environmental health officers, the county’s highways team, a local campaign group and more than 50 local residents.

Warwickshire County Council’s planning committee was set to make a decision on the detailed proposals for the two buildings.

But issues with car parking, landscaping and four multi-use games areas prompted the fiercest criticism, with councillors deciding to postpone making a decision so that further discussions could take place.

Potential noise generated by those using the four outdoor pitches led to Rugby Council’s environmental health chiefs voicing their concerns. They are now in talks with the agent for the Education and Skills Funding Agency who put forward the application.

But one county councillor fears too much damage has already been done to community relations in the area.

Cllr Kam Kaur (Con Bilton and Hillside) told this week’s meeting: “I have been a councillor for 16 years and in that time I don’t think I’ve ever been through an application process such as this.

“Normally you would talk to key stakeholders, involve community and sit around a table and see that you get the best for the environment you live in – but that’s not been the case in this application process at all.

“I am talking from my heart today because I’ve been shot down and when I get back home there’s an email which is insulting and quite threatening and bullish.

“For me I had a vision for what this school would provide – not only a centre of excellence for the future generation of Rugby but also a facility that would combine the existing community and a new development – but that’s not what we’re going to get. What we are going to get is an existing community who are resentful of the school coming next door.”

Councillors also commented on the car park for the secondary school having no space allocated for sixth formers.

A separate agenda item sought permission to replace a redundant outdoor swimming pool with a new two-storey classroom block at the former Rokeby Infant School which currently houses Rugby Free School. The extra space is needed by September when a new intake of around 180 children join the school.

Councillors accepted that there was insufficient car parking for the extra staff but still agreed to grant permission after hearing that the alternative would be to bus children to other schools in Warwickshire.

David Lawrence, Local Democracy Reporting Service