The expansion of Wilmslow High School at a cost of £12m to meet the need for additional secondary school places in the town has taken another step forward.
The Northern Planning Committee approved the scheme to enable the High School to increase from 1500 to 1800 pupil places from September 2023 despite concerns from local reidents regarding additional traffic congestion.
The planning committee voted unanimously on Wednesday, 4th November, in favour of the proposals which include a single-storey extension to the main building and a further extension linking the existing Olympic Hall and Sports Hall blocks, plus significant internal re-modelling.
Additionally, a new car park for staff will be created at the northern end, providing 30 spaces, and the visitor car park will be integrated into the main staff car park providing 16 spaces - resulting in a total of 253 car parking spaces for the school.
Cllr Iain Macfarlane, Wilmslow West & Chorley, who is a member of the Northern Planning Committee told wilmslow.co.uk "The Northern Planning Committee voted for extensions and alterations to Wilmslow High School along with highway improvement works within and adjacent to the school grounds in order to deal with a future planned addition of 300 pupils. The existing sports and recreation facilities will be upgraded to allow increased usage by the school and the community through a Community Use Agreement.
"Broadway residents have long complained about traffic congestion and queues of cars at school opening and closing time - a new larger drop-off multi-storey car park facility will be constructed within the school grounds to maximise the flow of traffic from Broadway to ensure that parents will drop off their children in a safe environment and remove congestion from outside the school. Buses will also be able to park within this facility.
"The eastern access off the A34 will also have a larger drop-off zone allowing an increase from 2 to 9 cars at a time which will reduce queues and prevent congestion on the bypass.
"A new 3 metre-wide footpath/cycle link from the northern edge of the school buildings will be constructed down the west side of the sports pitches then along the edge of the Broadway Meadow car park - a lockable access gate will be included in the boundary which will only be opened at the beginning and the end of the school day. This route is designed to accommodate the vast majority of pupils who currently walk along Broadway from the leisure centre access road and from the railway station."
Wilmslow Town Council recommended refusal of this application on the grounds of additional traffic congestion at both the Holly Road and A34 entrances and the proposed solutions still being inadequate to resolve these issues. In addition, the proposal to create an entrance off Broadway Meadow does not appear to take into consideration the likelihood of a multi-storey car park being constructed on this site.
Eight objections were received, the issues raised included that the access solutions proposed do not go far enough to resolve existing congestion problems and pedestrian safety concerns, how can it be assured that the pick-up/drop-off at Broadway will not continue and proposed use of 6m tall lighting towers will impact nearby residents.
The planning officered recommended approval of the planning application having concluded that whilst the site is located on an area of Existing Open Space, the areas of open space lost to development are very limited and there are sufficient benefits to outweigh this plus the proposals were also considered to be of an acceptable design.