Plans for housing estate in West Cumbria prompts school fears

Picture courtesy of Google Street View
Picture courtesy of Google Street View
10 August 2017 5:41PM

Angry residents fear their community will be torn apart if plans for a new housing development go ahead.

Story Homes wants to develop land east of the A597 in High Harrington, backing onto Harringdale Road and Beaufort Avenue.

But the county council said primary school children would have to go to Distington Community School as Beckstone and St Mary's are at capacity.

Because spaces are available at Distington, the county council said it would not ask for a financial contribution from the developer towards extra school places in Harrington.

Graeme Innes, county council's lead officer, said: "There is no space in the catchment school of Beckstone Primary to accommodate the primary pupil yield of 29 places from this development.

"There are two further schools within the statutory safe walking distance which are St Mary’s Catholic School, Harrington, which, taking into account the net capacity at the school, also has no space, and Distington Community Primary, which has places available which will accommodate the yield from this development. Therefore no contribution for primary education will be required."

Earlier this year residents set up an action group to oppose new housing developments until infrastructure is upgraded in the area.

Richard Johnson, chairman, said: "It's shameful, by building more and more houses they're not building a community, they're breaking it.

"Distington might be a very good school but it's definitely not the nearest one. I spoke to a lot of people and to Beckstone school itself and they want the school to be at the heart of the community.

"My son's friend has just had a baby. Is his child not going to go to the school his parents went to, in the place they lived in all their lives?"

Councillor Hilary Harrington, who represents the area on the town and borough council, said she would like to see a bigger primary school built in Harrington.

She said: "Communities are built in the playground. We have a tight community because most of us have known each other since childhood.

"They're dissecting the community because we don't have the infrastructure.

"I think the perfect solution to provide new housing would be to build another town somewhere else with the right infrastructure and services."

The plans have been recommended for refusal by the county council's highway's department because of concerns including access and drainage.

David Hayward, planner for Story Homes, said: "We are working closely with Cumbria County Council's Highways department to address their concerns. We are working towards a position where they will be able to remove their objection to our proposals ahead of planning committee.

"With regard to education spaces provision, an assessment has been completed by the county council and it has been determined that there is sufficient capacity in the local school system and we will not be required to make a contribution towards education."

Allerdale council will make the decision on the application.

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