Rokeby playing fields schools finally get approval

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Latest news.

Construction work could soon begin on Rokeby playing fields in Rugby.

Plans for the new building for Rugby Free Secondary School and a neighbouring special educational needs school were approved by Warwickshire County Council’s regulatory committee agreed to key elements of the application.

Plans to build a three-storey secondary school and an additional special education needs school were given the green light back in December but certain aspects of the design remained unresolved.

These related to car parking, the multi-use games areas (MUGAs) and landscaping.

Dozens of nearby residents attended Tuesday's meeting at Shire Hall along with staff from Rugby Free Secondary School which will be part of the development.

And they heard Warwickshire County Council’s principal planner Ian Grace explain that there had to be a level of compromise.

He said: “The depressing truth about the British planning system is that although it strives to achieve the best, it is often obliged to accept less than that. The test is not ‘is this scheme the best it could be?’ but ‘is it acceptable?’

“I agree that this advice will not be popular and it’s not popular with a lot of planning officers but that’s the way the system works.”

He added that with the applicant’s calculation that there will be 66 classrooms in the new secondary school, the minimum suggested number of car parking spaces was 132 but just 129 had been allocated.

Mr Grace said: “The applicant has explained the logic and that logic has been accepted by the highway authority and it is also close to the maximum stated. So my advice to the committee is that the parking standard is acceptable.”

With regard to the MUGAs, he added there had been objections from Rugby Borough Council’s environmental health officers relating to the noise generated and how close they were to houses in Fawsley Leys.

A revised plan reduced the number of MUGAs from four to three and doubled the distance between them and the neighbouring properties. A special timber fence will also be put between the homes and the games areas to reduce the noise. Those measures had prompted the environmental health officers to remove their objection.

Mr Grace added that a new landscaping plan had been put forward but this would soften the impact rather than hide a building of such size and scale.
Four people including Rugby Borough Cllr Bill Lewis spoke against the scheme.

Christine Green, head-teacher at Rugby Free Secondary School, spoke in favour of the plan and the project’s agent and acoustic consultant also addressed the meeting.

Cllr Adrian Warwick (Con Fosse) said: “Any school should be at the heart of the community and I think this has been a very difficult process for all involved. However, the principle of the school is established.”

Cllr Alan Webb (Labour Benn) added: “Most schools are affected by vehicular movement and most schools are affected by noise. We have spent a lot of time addressing these in terms of this application and we probably can’t do much more with it.”

Councillors voted in favour of approving the development of the two schools and the demolition of the former Rokeby Infant School.