School planning is branded ‘worst ever’

DM1506406a.jpg Former Queen Street car park in Worthing. Work has begun to install temporary classrooms. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150906-171110008
DM1506406a.jpg Former Queen Street car park in Worthing. Work has begun to install temporary classrooms. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-150906-171110008
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COUNCILLORS took a stand against ‘the worst planning process ever’ by objecting to plans for a temporary school on a public car park.

West Sussex County Council (WSCC) was criticised by Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee for its handling of the building of Worthing’s new Bohunt Academy.

WSCC has applied to site temporary classrooms on the Queen Street car park but closed the facility earlier than planned on Monday to prepare the ground.

The closure comes before the application has been granted.

Councillor James Doyle said: “This has been the worst planning process ever. It has been appallingly badly handled.”

The application is set to be decided by WSCC on June 23, as the borough voted to lease the car park to Bohunt and WSCC in March.

The committee was asked to provide its comments as part of the consultation process last Wednesday.

And while it recognised the need for the new academy, it registered its ‘strong objection’ to the plans, in recognition of the need to balance the rights of residents affected by the build.

Mr Doyle’s remarks were applauded by people in the public gallery, including Catherine Bourner, a Queen Street resident who gathered over 400 signatures on a petition against the car park closure.

Mrs Bourner said she was delighted with the decision.

“It is unacceptable that the local community has to suffer because of West Sussex County Council’s inability to plan ahead,” she said.

The committee requested a range of conditions, including setting up a liaison committee so residents can monitor the build process.

In response, a WSCC spokesman thanked residents for their patience.

She said: “The funding for this important project is time-limited and the scale of the project has presented some challenges to ensure the Bohunt Academy is complete by 2016.”

The spokesman pointed to two public meetings held to discuss issues with the site, with online surveys also carried out.

She confirmed the closure on Monday and stated alternative parking on the main school site had been arranged, with a longer-term agreement with Northbrook College reached.

WSCC has written to residents about the changes.

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