Planners refuse academy’s expansion

St George’s Academy’s ambitious plans for their Ruskington site have been dealt a set-back as their latest extension proposal was refused.

At the Lafford planning committee meeting at NKDC on Tuesday, the application by the school to build a new two-story extension, which would provide a sports hall, classrooms and toilets, plus more classrooms and an office upstairs, was rejected by councillors.

The application had been strongly opposed by residents of the adjacent Hawthorn Close, who had concerns that the height of the proposed extension would mean a loss of privacy, as well as the loss of trees, noise disturbance and bad language from pupils and floodlights being left on causing a nuisance.

Speaking at the meeting, Academy principal Paul Watson described the application as being in the best interests of the pupils, and that they need to have good facilities to make the school attractive to future parents.

But Hawthorn Close resident Michael Grant, one of many people living on the street who wrote letters to the council opposing the application, spoke out at the meeting. He said: “The extension is overbearing and in no way pays consideration to those in the adjacent properties. Having privacy is a right, not a privilege.”

Chairman of Ruskington parish council Peter Cunningham also spoke against the plans describing the overbearing location of the building, the noise intrusion and described the school’s statement that the school had been there before the houses as “arrogant”.

Ward member Councillor Terry Boston agreed that this response was “unneighbourly” and described the extension as a “monstrosity”.

Fellow ward member Councillor Richard Wright added that the planning officers hadn’t seemed to consider that there would be an adverse impact on the residents.

He said: “It is very sad that we are here today because I believe that schools are the heart of the community, but on this occasion the school and the community don’t seem to be as one.”

Chairman of the committee Councillor Pat Woodman said: “As I was driving in today I went past to have a look at Hawthorn Drive and I was surprised at how overwhelming it is.”

She added that the design of the building was “appalling” and called for the application to be rejected.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Watson expressed his disappointment at the decision: “It is a setback. I do understand people will react to the new development but we are trying to do our best for Ruskington as a whole.”

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