By Tony Earnshaw LDRS
Councillors have deferred plans for a £5m expansion of a Huddersfield secondary school.
They sought further information about the impact of traffic on King James’s School (KJS) in Almondbury as it seeks to accommodate an extra 300 pupils aged 11-16.
The extra students are set to arrive at the school following a controversial decision last year by education chiefs to scrap secondary provision at neighbouring Almondbury Community School.
The new two-storey 10 classroom block is to be created on land currently occupied by two existing temporary classrooms to the rear of the main school on St Helen’s Gate.
It means pupil numbers will increase from 900 to 1,050. Staff places will go up from 95 to 107.
This summer the council revealed that it was to pump £5.25m into expanding KJS by building the new classroom block.
The council, which has put forward the application, will design, procure and project manage the works.
The decision to defer was taken at a meeting of the council’s Strategic Planning Committee (Nov 17) and followed concerns from local people and ward councillors about highways issues relating to narrow surrounding roads.
There were calls for a 20mph speed limit, CCTV and speed cameras, and a pedestrian crossing on nearby Fenay Lane.
And there were fears that HGVs delivering building materials would require a new access into the site from Arkenley Lane.
Clr Nigel Patrick (Con, Holme Valley South) said it should not be assumed that pupils would walk to school and said, “You can encourage but you cannot dictate what happens. There will be an increase in traffic.”
He sought guarantees to make local roads safer and said he could not support the notion of retrospective action on safety issues.
He added: “The council needs to be treated in exactly the same way as any other applicant.”
Clr Carole Pattison (Lab, Greenhead) said a travel plan and safety review would be undertaken but that they could not be delivered whilst the school was split across two sites.
She said she was worried that the committee was “over-worried” about the increase in cars.
“I don’t think we should over-egg the dangers that there might be. At best there will be an additional 35 cars going down that particular stretch of road at peak times.
“We can actually expect that to be less if we encourage walking, cycling or even buses.”
Clr Cathy Scott (Lab, Dewsbury East) described traffic on roads around the school as “an absolute nightmare”. On that basis she suggested there should be no further development on the school site. “Enough is enough,” she said.
The vote for deferral was carried by a 6-1 majority, with Clr Pattison voting against.