Planning permission has been granted for a 420-pupil school at the former law courts in Hatchlands Road, Redhill, but with a condition that pupils are dropped off and picked up at the Donyngs leisure centre car park.
Hatchlands Primary School, which opened in September 2018, currently just uses the old probation service building at the site, Allonby House.
The plan has always been to also use the main court building, given that the school is adding a new intake of two forms each year until it builds up to the full 420 students.
The proposals, filed by developer the Elliott Group on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education, will see the court building demolished and a purpose-built facility constructed in its place.
Once the new building is ready, pupils will move over from Allonby House which in turn will become a separate nursery for 30 children.
The plans were approved by Reigate & Banstead Borough Council’s planning committee on 2 October (video here), but with a host of conditions, many aimed at traffic and road safety issues as the site sits on the A25.
The committee was told that Surrey County Council’s highways department had found that if pupils were picked up and collected at the school there would be four times the number of vehicle movements compared to when the law courts were open.
To deal with the resulting road safety and congestion concerns, on an A road, a “park and stride” will operate.
Under the scheme, parents will drop children off in the Donyngs car park. School staff will then walk them 450 metres from the back of Donyngs, past the allotments, down past Reigate Baptist Church, and along a short section of pavement by the A25, to the school.
The reverse will operate at pick-up time, with the scheme applying to children in Reception upwards.
A 20-space car park at the school, plus two disabled bays, will be for the use of staff and visitors.
Councillors at the planning committee had concerns that parents might not comply with the park and stride scheme but instead stop outside the school, particularly in poor weather.
Some councillors gave examples of parents not following rules in other parts of the borough.
The committee called for railings to be erected on both sides of the A25, both to deter parking by parents and to prevent children from going into the road.
Other planning conditions include a signal-controlled pedestrian crossing across the A25.
Final details of the measures, including the park and stride scheme, will be included in legal agreements that are to be drawn up.
The building itself didn’t get much discussion at the committee meeting, but what comments there were seemed to confirm the view in the planning officer’s report that the building had a “contemporary but functional style”. One councillor said that it was no worse than the current court building.
Councillors welcomed the fact that screening plants at the front of the site will be kept.
The planning officer’s report also noted the local demand for school places, confirmed by Surrey County Council, and national planning guidance requiring “great weight” to be given to the need for new schools.
Following the committee’s decision, Penny Manser of the Everychild Trust, which runs the school, said they were delighted with the approval. The trust hopes to begin work this November, with a completion date of August 2020.
The law courts closed in March 2017. Previous articles about the site are here.