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New Huntington primary school planned on green belt land

More spaces needed to cope with increased number of houses on Saighton Camp site

The current Huntington Primary School in Butterbache Road.

A controversy is developing over plans for a primary school to help serve the growing Huntington community but sited on green belt land.

Cheshire West and Chester Council has applied for planning permission for a new Huntington primary school on the opposite side of Sandy Lane to the upmarket Saighton Camp scheme for around 1,000 homes.

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The two-storey school would 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 would replace the current school in Butterbache Road which provides 210 places and has had to install mobile classrooms to cope with demand.

A map showing the location of the proposed new Huntington Primary School.

 

But the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is objecting to the loss of green belt. Sport England has lodged a holding objection to the loss of a playing field. And Welsh Water says the proposed development will overload the sewerage network and Chester Waste Water Treatment Works.

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The applicants have also admitted the design had to address challenges such as noise and air quality due to its proximity to the A55 but believe the scheme will be compliant with the rules now and in future.

Roy Shelton, chief executive of Saighton-based ITS Technology Group and chairman of Huntington Parish Council.

 

Roy Shelton, chairman of Huntington Parish Council, embraces the school proposal.

Cllr Shelton, whose family were the second household to move on to the former Saighton Camp, said: “I welcome the new school. We’ve got a growing community which needs to be served.”

He said there were plans to relocate the sports pitch on which the school would be built.

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Proposals to expand the school 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.

At the time Cllr Shelton, chief executive of Saighton-based ITS Technology Group, hit out at the developers for seeking to replace commercial units with more housing saying his firm had enquired about locating there but was given the brush-off.

This week he told The Chronicle the revised school plan had actually worked out for the best as it will lead to less congestion on the estate and with ‘bigger and more facilities’ for the whole community.

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However, green belt campaigner Ann Jones of CPRE Chester, said in her objection: “This large scale housing allocation was allowed by the inspector at appeal but only if a new primary school would be built within the site to make the site sustainable.”

She concluded: “No very special circumstances can be demonstrated by the applicant to build in the green belt. For these reasons planning permission should be refused.”

 

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