Swimming pool and activity hall boost for school but at what cost

Woodhouse Primary School, Daisy Road, Rastrick.
Woodhouse Primary School, Daisy Road, Rastrick.

A Rastrick primary school has been given permission to develop a new activity hall and overhaul its swimming pool – but the decision could come at the cost of a charity’s out-of-school club.

The Board of Governors at Woodhouse Primary School, Daisy Road, Brighouse, applied for permission to build a new extension and relocate parking spaces but this will involve the demolition of a portable building on the site used for 25 years by not-for-profit charity Brighouse SOS.

Objections to the proposals include the charity owning the unit and members of Calderdale Council Planning Committee were told they had to make a decision on planning grounds with private issues between charity and school to be settled themselves outside of the planning process.

The loss of the school club, privacy and traffic issues were concerns expressed in 27 letters of objection while ten letters of support included the school’s need to expand and belief a solution was achievable regarding the Brighouse SOS situation.

An objector spoke on behalf of Brighouse SOS’s six trustees and staff, members and children, telling councillors it had been established in 1992 with the premises opened by the borough’s Mayor.

The building was financially maintained by the charity which employed five childcare workers and it met the needs of more than 100 children and their families on weekdays, with a waiting list of children equivalent to 25 per cent of the school’s population.

Negotiations had begun with the school but stalled awaiting responses to some questions posed from Calderdale officers.

She asked the committee delay a decision on the application until a resolution could be found.

“We want to continue providing a service within the boundaries of the school,” she said.

Chairman of Governors at Woodhouse School, John Eyles, said the extension would provide an sizeable activity studio which could be used for physical education, performances and ultimately the community.

When it opened in 1968 a single form entry each year was enough capacity but as number of homes increased a two-form entry had been established though the original hall was still the same size.

Woodhouse was one of the schools to have its own pool and pupils left the school able to swim to a high standard, the new plans allowing for its refurbishment.

There was no option but to remove the Brighouse SOS cabin as part of the works but realised the worth of the charity’s facility and what it provided.

Discussions had taken place and here would be ample time to continue these and find a solution. Relocating the charity within the school building close to where the cabin was would possibly form the basis of a lettings policy and Calderdale Council’s legal section had been asked to draw this up.

Coun Steve Sweeney (Lab, Todmorden), chairing the meeting, reminded councillors they could only consider planning matters, whether in itself the application met the council’s guidelines.

Planning lead Richard Seaman had told councillors it was possible for anyone to apply for permission to develop land they did not own – non-planning matters like ownership had to be resolved between the parties concerned.

Coun David Kirton (Con, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe), supporting Coun Faisal Shoukat’s (Lab, Town) proposal that the plans should be approved, said: “It’s an excellent school and these facilities can only improve the opportunities for children at the school,” he said. Councillors agreed.