Monday, December 4, 2023

Ecclesbourne School Expansion

Plans to build a large extension at a Derbyshire secondary school have been approved – at the second time of asking.

The plans, approved by Amber Valley borough councillors, were put forward by Ecclesbourne School in Wirksworth Road, Duffield.

Ecclesbourne currently has around 1,420 pupils, but this is set to rise to 1,625 by next year.

As a result, the school says it is in need of more teaching and study space – its existing sixth form building is “inadequate and overcrowded,” it says.

Amber Valley Borough Council had rejected the plans in October due to the proposed loss of recreation space and existing issues with traffic and parking.

This was against the recommendation of its officers and with the stern warning that an appeal against a refusal on these grounds would be difficult to fight – and could cost it money.

An appeal into that refused plan is currently being mulled over by a government planning inspector.

Now, with slight tweaks, the plans have been signed off by councillors for the 304 sq m extension – which would also include an improved cafe and kitchen space.

This is aimed at reducing the pressure on the school’s main kitchen and allowing students to buy hot food rather than just snacks.

The proposed teaching and studying area can be divided to allow for more secluded work.

It is also thought that the proposal will also allow the school to better accommodate pupils with special needs in examinations, allowing space for readers and scribes.

Once complete, the new facility would also be available for community use in the evenings and weekends.

James McNamara, head teacher at Ecclesbourne, said: “We are delighted to be getting started on our planned new sixth form centre which will provide state-of-the-art accommodation for our students as they embark on A-Level study.

“The new centre includes social  and silent study space, expanded and modernised dining facilities and flexible use classroom space.

“The majority of our students stay on into sixth form and we want to ensure they have the best possible platform for success as they strive for university and apprenticeship places.”

Both of the ward members for Duffield, the Green Party’s Cllr Dave Wells, and Conservative Chris Short, objected to the proposals.

Cllr Wells wrote, “The building has a negative visual impact on some neighbouring houses; would lead to a loss of playing field space; the lack of sufficient car-parking has a negative impact on surrounding streets; concerned figures in the Travel Plan are inaccurate; a localised increase in car use will lead to environmental and health dis-benefits.”

Meanwhile, Cllr Short had written: “There is less parking provision (four spaces instead of five) than the previous application, causing significant public concern.”

On behalf of the school, DPP Planning said, “The expansion of The Ecclesbourne School has been recognised by all parties as a critical factor in ensuring that residential development in the area is sustainable.

“With the number of pupils being admitted for the school having been increased by Derbyshire County Council with support from Amber Valley Borough Council, the proposals will ease this pressure, by providing multi-use sixth form accommodation, utilising flexible spaces in the new extension.”

Eddie Bisknell (LDRS)

Eddie writes for Nailed through the Local Democracy Reporting Service, in partnership with the BBC. The Local Democracy Reporting Service is a partnership of media outlets sharing reporters to cover council meetings.

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