Proposals for a new primary school on the site of the former South Leeds Sports Centre must include enough parking spaces for staff to avoid problems for local residents, councillors have said.
Members of the south and west plans panel heard initial proposals for the 420-pupil primary school and 26-place nursery off Beeston Road at a pre-application hearing at the Civic Hall today.
Pre-application hearings are held so councillors can give early feedback to applicants about their proposals before a formal planning application is submitted for approval.
They heard that the school – to be called Lane End Primary School and open in 2015 – would initially be built as a two form entry, but extensions could turn it into a three form entry school with an extra six classes in following years.
Councillors said it was important that the school included an all-weather MUGA (Multi-Use Games Area) for school and community use and changing facilities for teams like Beeston Broncos.
The Broncos used the former South Leeds Sports Centre facilities until its closure in 2010 and subsequent demolition. The meeting heard sports teams were currently using unsuitable metal containers to change in.
They said they agreed with the principle of having a school on the site but urged the applicants to ensure that the building was large enough to adequately carry out everything the school needed to do.
The new school is apparently scheduled to have 38 parking spaces for staff and school visitors, but councillors were concerned that that wouldn’t be enough and feared the lack of spaces could lead to staff parking all day in nearby residential streets such as Moorville Close, Hunslet Hall Drive and Northcote Drive.
A raft of road improvement measures are also planned to cope with the extra traffic.
City and Hunslet councillor Elizabeth Nash said:
“I am really quite angry that we are discussing this here today. When Education Leeds ran education in this city they said that the birthrate was going down, which meant they wanted to merge Hillside, which is 300 metres away, with what is now called New Bewerley and was then called Arthur Greenwood School.
“Education Leeds wanted to keep Hillside but parents objected because of a lack of playing space. I supported the parents and the new school was built at New Bewerley and Hillside was closed.
“Now we’re talking about a great increase in birthrate and the need for more places. Local residents must now be wondering what the council was playing at in closing a perfectly good school at Hillside.
“The council also closed the sports centre on the site amid great community concern, which is another issue. But we are where we are.”
Cllr Nash urged developers to include enough parking spaces for staff: “Traffic from parents picking up and dropping off [children] is a nuisance but it’s not critical. If you have a three-form entry you definitely won’t have enough room for all the staff to park.”
Apparently 81% of pupils are expected to walk to the site, which is near good bus routes to Beeston and town.
Pudsey councillor Mick Coulson echoed Nash’s concerns over parking.
Councillors also heard that the existing embankment on the site would provide a shield between the school and neighbouring properties. The school, it’s said, will sit in a ‘natural amphitheatre’ on the site.
Classrooms would be on the ‘inside’ of the school away from the M621 motorway, so not to be affected by noise.
One planning officer told the meeting that there was potential to provide more parking but it would be at the expense of open space. He also warned that providing more parking spaces would also come at ‘considerable’ financial cost.
Councillors’ observations will be taken on board by council officers as more formal proposals are drawn up. A formal planning application will be submitted early next year.
The council decided last year that The Learning Trust for South Leeds was the preferred bidder to build the new school.