A PUBLIC inquiry into a new school campus at Southwell Business Park starts tomorrow.
The Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy is appealing against a decision by Weymouth and Portland Borough Council's planning committee to refuse permission to locate the main school campus at the park.
The inquiry, which will be held at the Heights Hotel on Portland from 10am, will last four days but it is expected to be some time before a decision is made known by the inspector.
Members of the public will be allowed to speak at the planning inspector’s discretion.
Southwell resident Phil Frankham said: “I’d urge everyone to go and make their views known.”
Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s planning committee rejected plans by a vote of eight to four at a meeting held at the Portland Heights Hotel in June.
The committee and audience were shown the proposed new build sports hall, internal changes to the Southwell site and changes to access.
Other changes included widening existing footpaths and creating new footpaths to allow better access for cyclists and pedestrians.
The meeting was opened up to the public and parents, residents and teachers spoke both for and against the site at Southwell. Concerns were raised about the road network and safeguarding issues.
Several councillors spoke against the plans including veteran councillor Les Ames. He called on members of the planning panel to reject the plans.
But supporters urged the committee to accept the proposals saying the business park was an ideal site and ‘a blank canvas.’ One Portland teenager completed a 200-mile trek in support of the new Portland Academy.
Adam Greaves set out on Thursday August 22 to walk, paddle and cycle his way to London to present a petition to Number 10, signed by parents and supporters in favour of the new academy building at Maritime House.
PROPOSALS REJECTED ON SEVERAL GROUNDS
The proposals for the Southwell Business Park site for the Academy were rejected by the councillors on several grounds.
The reasons given included the objections raised by Portland Town Council. Councillors agreed with the town council, firstly that the retention of the existing school sites amounted to a more sustainable option and secondly, the traffic proposals would have a significant amenity impact and highway safety implications for Sweet Hill and Avalanche Road and there would be an adverse impact on the flora and fauna.
Councillors said that the development of the proposed sports hall was outside the development boundary.
Speaking after the decision, IPACA principal Alison Appleyard said she was sad and disappointed by the outcome. She later outlined the academy's plans to appeal.
ACADEMY SPREAD OVER FIVE CAMPUSES
The Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy (IPACA) opened at the start of the last academic year and is based in four existing Portland schools on five separate campuses.
It is a locally-run, non-selective co-educational state school for students aged four to 16 currently, with plans to have a sixth form in the near future.
The plan was for the academy to be split across two sites, Southwell, and the newly-built one at Osprey Quay.
Plans for the £15million campus at Southwell included alterations, extensions, a new sports hall and sports fields as well as re-organisation and additions to road, footpath and cycle routes.