Agenda item


To consider the report of the Assistant Director City Development.


(Report circulated)



The Assistant Director City Development presented the application for full planning permission for temporary consent for up to three years for the installation of temporary buildings on land at Gloucester Road for use by the Steiner Academy, Exeter (education use (D1)) and creation of a temporary outdoor play area and associated works.


Members were circulated with an update sheet - attached to minutes.


The recommendation was for approval subject to the conditions as set out in the report.


Councillor Hannaford, having given notice under Standing Order No.44, spoke on the item. He raised the following points:-


  • this area of Exwick already suffers from severe traffic congestion during school dropping off and picking up times because of Exwick Heights Primary school, problems which will be exacerbated by providing a school on the former Foxhayes School site where it is expected that 198 trips/day will be generated in the second year
  • the traffic management plan and school transport plan need to be re-examined, the former to include consideration of the use of Truro Drive as a second access to relieve pressure on the Gloucester Road junction
  • if the Compulsory Purchase Order negotiations for a footway from Kinnerton Way to Exwick Heights School could be expedited, public access in this area could be improved
  • a standard school travel plan is insufficient for a Steiner Academy which will attract pupils from a wide catchment area, including beyond Exeter. A more robust plan is necessary
  • the proposed change of school finishing time from 3.30pm to 3.45pm is of vital importance and should be rigorously enforced.


The Assistant Director City Development explained that the school transport plan was designed specific to this proposal.


Mr Swindell, Principal designate of the Steiner Academy spoke in support of the application. He raised the following points:-


  • there were 600 Steiner Schools in Europe and 38 privately funded ones in England with a further two state funded. Exeter, would be the third such state funded Steiner school in the UK
  • 130 pupils were to be enrolled in September rising to 624 when full. Of the 130 pupils, 70% have parents resident in Exeter
  • funding was in place from the Government’s Education Funding Agency
  • there had been detailed discussions on the school transport plan and traffic management arrangements with the County and City Officers as well as the Exwick Heights Primary School Head
  • the school would be of economic benefit to the City and 14 teachers had been recruited to date
  • the school would complement other education provision in the City and close links would be fostered with both Exeter College and the University as well as the City’s wider educational establishment
  • the Steiner school philosophy will broaden educational choice in the City.


He responded as follows to Members’ queries:-


  • the school transport plan included provision for a walking bus and car sharing but it was difficult to anticipate the number of pupils likely to take these up. The older children will walk, cycle or use the bus and the younger children are likely to be dropped off by their parents. Part of the Steiner school philosophy is to encourage children to start the day by walking to school
  • negotiations are well advanced with the City and County Councils and interested parties regarding a permanent site with funding agreed by the EFA
  • the school transport plan has been integral to the planning of the school as child safety is paramount and traffic management issues had been examined in depth in liaison with the County Council and the Exwick Heights School Head. The Foxhayes School was recommended by the latter and will provide a pleasant environment for the children
  • school pupil numbers will eventually be matched by the Exwick Heights school as it expands and the Steiner school vacates to its new site
  • with regard to job creation, a comparative school in the south east now employs some 100-120 people
  • this site is too small for a permanent establishment and demand for a new school is growing with significant parental support and existing shortages of school places in Exeter
  • catering will be sourced locally and one classroom on the site will be used for administration and learning support etc. as specified by the EFA
  • this school will not be the only primary school in Exeter possessing significant catchment areas beyond their immediate areas.


Members were concerned that agreeing temporary permission might still lead to a longer term occupation of the site if the school was unable to finalise arrangements for a permanent site which would result in a number of temporary, unsuitable buildings occupying the Foxhayes site. There were additional concerns regarding the school transport plan given the significant congestion in the area and at the Gloucester Road junction in particular. Exwick already suffered from bottleneck problems and the area around the Exwick Heights school was particularly problematic at school dropping off and collecting times. Other Members felt that, whilst the buildings were temporary, current facilities of this nature were of a relatively high quality.


The Assistant Director City Development advised that, after the three year permission period, if the school had been unable to move, a further application for permission would be necessary. The Transportation Studies Manager of the County Council advised that the County school transport team had developed the transport plan in conjunction with the applicant and that, whilst recognising that the implementation of the appropriate Traffic Regulation Orders would be challenging, initial steps, including yellow lines, could be implemented before the September start date of the autumn term.


RESOLVED that planning permission for temporary consent for up to three years be deferred for a site inspection by all Members of this Committee for the application to be further considered at a future meeting of this Committee.

 (Report circulated)


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