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Images released of controversial new Chester primary school

Construction work is due to start this autumn
Computer generated images of the proposed Huntington Primary School.

Images have been released of a controversial primary school designed to cope with extra demand from 1,200 homes being built on the former Saighton Army Camp.

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s planning committee approved its own planning application for a brand new Huntington Primary School by 10 votes to one back in May.

But the decision came against a controversial background including the fact the school will be built on green belt land.

Computer generated images of the proposed Huntington Primary School.

As such, the matter was referred to the Secretary of State but he decided not to intervene.

A construction management plan says work will start on October 26 and be completed by September 7, 2018.

The two-storey school will be built on playing fields associated with the former army camp, opposite Walker’s plant nursery, with space for 420 primary-age pupils and a nursery.

It will replace the current school in Butterbache Road which provides 210 places and has had to install mobile classrooms to cope with demand.

The current Huntington Primary School in Butterbache Road.

But the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) objected to the loss of green belt. Sport England lodged an objection to the loss of a playing field. And Welsh Water said the development would overload the sewerage network and Chester Waste Water Treatment Works, but this objection was withdrawn at the eleventh hour.

The design of the school also had to address challenges such as noise and air quality due to its proximity to the A55.

Computer generated images of the proposed Huntington Primary School.

Proposals to build a new and bigger school for the community were developed in response to the new homes, rising birth rates and parental preferences.

But the original idea was that the Saighton Camp housing would be served by an on-site primary school.

Then in January 2015 applicants GMV Eight succeeded in gaining consent to build another 120 homes in place of the school – and a site allocated for businesses – saying the alternative school site was preferred and there was no demand for employment land.

Taylor Wimpey’s new homes at Saighton Camp

Planning committee members approved the scheme after being told there were no grounds to refuse.

Chester Civic Trust remains unhappy at how the situation arose.

Its objection to the school read: “The justification in the applicant’s planning statement for shifting the location to Saighton Playing Fields merely reflects the apparent failure of the developers to seriously accept a school on the original proposed site and the planning authority’s acquiescence in the more profitable (for the developer) option of extra housing in Saighton Camp instead.”

The site where the new Huntington Primary School will be built.

Andy Scargill, chairman of Friends of North Chester Greenbelt, agreed: “ A properly planned scheme would have included a new school within the site and the green belt would have been preserved.

"As things stand now, children will have to walk out of the housing estate and across two busy roads to access the new site which is an accident waiting to happen. Furthermore the new school site will remove more playing field provision from a city where it has been established that there is currently under provision.”

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