Laneshaw Bridge Primary School plan - D-Day approaches

editorial image

COUNCILLORS are to make their decision on controversial plans for Laneshaw Bridge Primary School which have divided villagers.

A meeting of Lancashire County Council’s Development Control Committee takes place on Wednesday where a judgement will be made over plans for a new school.

Lancashire County Council applied for planning permission last December to demolish the existing school and build a larger one on a site in Emmott Lane.

The school authority has said the high performing school is over subscribed and has put forward a proposal for a bigger modern building with better facilities.

The plans have sparked a strong reaction from villagers, with some backing the school’s expansion and others worried it will have a detrimental effect on village life.

Headteacher Mrs Eileen Bleasdale has said the school is in desperate need of a new building as the current one is “totally inappropriate”.

“The conditions are so cramped pupils are unable to move easily around the classrooms. The school hall is no bigger than a wide corridor and the lack of school kitchen means children cannot have a hot meal.

“A larger building, with modern facilities will enable this excellent school to further improve and enable more children to access the high quality education it provides,” she said.

The proposal came before Laneshaw Bridge Parish Council at the end of last year, with councillors agreeing in principle with the idea of a new school but not with the chosen site in Emmott Lane.

Councillors argued the narrow lane would be unable to cope with an increase in traffic and would be unsafe.

Pendle Council’s Colne and District Committee also objected to the proposal and wrote a letter to Lancashire County Council expressing their views.

At a meeting of the committee in January councillors said the development would have a detrimental impact on villagers and other primary schools in Colne and the surrounding area.

Speaking on behalf of villagers opposed to the plans, Mr Mark Rawstron told the committee: “Planning policy dictates any proposal must be small scale to meet demonstrable need. But this proposal is not small scale, it is 12 times the size of the existing site and equates to 14% of the total village.

“The applicant has also not demonstrated need, 75% of pupils attending the school are from outside the village. These pupils do not need to attend the school.”

But Mrs Bleasdale has refuted the figures claiming 65% of pupils live within a two mile radius and 90% within three miles of the school.

Following the negative reaction from councillors the school launched its own campaign encouraging people get behind them.

They unveiled a banner listing the reasons to say “Yes to a new eco friendly school”.

Pupils also attended a weekend surgery with Pendle’s MP Andrew Stephenson to put forward their petition in support of a new school.

The planning application will be discussed on Wednesday at a meeting of Lancashire County Council’s Development Control Committee, where a decision should be made.

The meeting will be held at County Hall in Preston at 10 a.m.