11:10am Friday 10th January 2014
By Pete Grant
CONTROVERSIAL plans to permanently house a secondary school in a former office block in South Bucks were rejected yesterday.
The Department for Education applied to change the use of Pioneer House in Stoke Poges after the Khalsa Secondary Academy was given temporary permission to move in last year.
But councillors on South Bucks District Council’s Planning Committee threw out the plans, after fears were raised over traffic issues and noise problems for neighbouring residents should the Sikh school move in for good.
Cllr Roger Reed, SBDC's Deputy Leader, said: “This is the first chance that the Local Planning Authority has had to determine this very important issue.
"Last year, the Secretary of State frustratingly withdrew his planning application for the school at the last minute, preferring instead to rely on his Government’s newly granted permitted development rights for the site’s temporary use as a free school.
"In so doing he prevented both local people and the Council from voicing their significant concerns over the many aspects of this development.
“Whilst the notification procedure now being used by the Secretary of State falls well short of the rigour of a full planning application process it has at least given the Council, on behalf of our local community, a chance to assess the impact of the site’s use as a school on a permanent basis and the right decision has been reached.”
It marks the end of a long campaign from Stoke Poges residents since the plans first emerged early last year, with protestors insisting South Bucks does not need or want another secondary school.
The Free School opened its doors in September after the DfE used new permitted development rights to allow the 12-month use of the building for education purposes.
But the academy, operated by the Slough Sikh Education Education Trust, said is now intending to work with the DfE to review its legal options over the current site.
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