Planners give school plans the green light

Rastrick Independent School.

Rastrick Independent School.

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Councillors have approved plans for the building of two controversial dormitory blocks at Rastrick Independent School.

The new blocks will house 22 boarders who currently live away from the private school, on Ogden Lane, Rastrick.

Calderdale Council’s Planning Committee had deferred the decision from a previous meeting after concerns were raised about parking, open space and increased traffic.

Councillor Ann McAllister (Con, Rastrick) spoke in objection to the plans criticising the approach of the planning committee.

She said: “There is absolutely no parking. How previous applications were satisfactory is a complete mystery to me. Peak time school traffic is an absolute nightmare.

“Complaints and concerns have been disregarded and dismissed.”

Resident John Leach, spoke at the meeting. He said that parking was a major issue, with staff taking up roadside parking throughout Rastrick, and claimed the close proximity of the proposed dormitories to his house was in breach of planning legislation.

A report to the committee and an agent for the school said that there would no increase in traffic as the numbers of pupils was not increasing.

However, Coun McAllister described this assertion as “disingenuous”.

The decision to approve the plans was not an easy one with a split decision from committee members.

Committee member Coun David Hardy (Lib Dem, Elland) said: “I sympathise wholeheartedly with the residents of Rastrick. I think it should have been looked at in more detail a number of years ago.

“I can only go by what I can see and read and, going by my experience, I can’t see anything in planning law to reject this and if it went to appeal it would be overturned.

“I can’t go down a path where it would cost this Council wasted time and money.”

Chair Steve Sweeney (Lab, Todmorden) seconded the motion as other councillors sat silent in the meeting eventually voting in favour four to two.

The school currently has 432 pupils and 56 members of staff and a pool of 40 additional staff who are called on as required.

The new boarders would mean that this pool would be used more frequently but the school was adamant it would not mean and increase in the size of the school.