Councillors have today rejected plans to secure Chapeltown Academy’s location on a business park in a shock twist.
The free school is already open on Hydra Business Park, Nether Lane, under one year’s permitted development rights but proposals to formalise it and make it a permanent facility were before Sheffield Council this afternoon.
The plans were set for approval, but councillors decided to overturn that recommendation.
They feared the location was ‘unsuitable’, that there could be road safety problems with industrial traffic and uture developments on the park could be ‘compromised’ as they would have to co-exist with the educational setting.
Some comments in favour were made, stressing that at least the unit would not be left empty and there had been no safety problems since the school opened in September.
But Coun Peter Price said: “I can’t support this development - its the last place I’d put a school to be honest, an industrial site away from housing.
“We are here as planners, not educationalists, to look at the planning implications and long term future of this city. If something happens at this school I don’t want it to come back and people say ‘why did you give that permission?”
After the meeting academy headteacher Rebecca Maxted, when asked if there would be an appeal against the decision, said she would now seek advice.
Speaking at the planning and highways committee earlier, she said that ‘a couple of hundred people are waiting back at the academy for the decision’.
She said there was already a nursery on the park and there would soon be a tutoring school also.
She said: “A lot of businesses on the Hydra park are not heavy industry, they are architects or interior designers. It has been said we are on an unsuitable location but we did quite a lot of surveys with the staff, students and parents and they all felt it was extremely safe.”