Dunottar School in High Trees Road, Reigate, has gained planning permission for a new sixth form centre, assembly hall, classrooms and other improvements.
The school has welcomed the decision, saying the new buildings will benefit pupils, while fitting in with the existing site. Dunottar expects construction of the sixth form centre to start this summer and finish at Easter, after which the rest of the work will begin.
Reigate & Banstead’s planning committee gave approval on Wednesday 6 June: this was a second meeting, as councillors in May decided to delay their decision for a site visit, after hearing concerns about traffic.
Residents were worried that the school would attract older pupils, with their own cars, on top of traffic already generated by the school hiring out its facilities at evenings and weekends.
Accordingly, planning conditions include the school getting council sign-off on both its school travel plan and how it will hire out the site in the future.
In addition, Dunottar’s planning agent earlier told the committee that the school is changing some groups’ timings, requiring attendees to park on-site, and ending some contracts from September. The school wants to work with residents, he added, through regular meetings.
A cap on pupil numbers at 460 will remain (although the school currently has fewer), but with no restriction on the future age balance.
The actual design of the buildings provoked only limited discussion at the two meetings, but with some councillors speaking against and others in favour. A planning officer’s report said the council’s policy of protecting “urban open land” did permit school expansion, and the borough’s conservation officer had no objections about the impact on Dunottar’s Grade II listed building.
Surrey County Council Highways also raised no objections.
Planning permission was granted by 15 votes to 2, and listed building consent by 13 votes to 3.
“Modern working space”
Following the approval, Dunottar’s headmaster, Mark Tottman, said of the school’s plans:
“The new sixth-form centre will provide a modern working space which will look and feel as much like being at university and the world of work as being in a school. We are keen to give our pupils the chance to learn in an environment that prepares them for life beyond Dunottar.
The assembly hall will enable us to hold whole-school assemblies as the school continues to grow. It will be a fabulous new venue for pupils to practise and perform music and drama, which are both very important to us at Dunottar.”
Andy Cotton, Estates manager at Dunottar, added:
“We’re going to maintain the ecology of the existing landscaping with new plants and trees that are sympathetic to the historical gardens.
The new buildings have been designed to integrate perfectly with our beautiful Grade II listed buildings.”
The former girls’ school became co-educational and joined the United Learning group in 2014: since then numbers have risen, and this September there’ll be equal numbers of boys and girls.
Edited 13 June 2018 to correctly credit images