PLANS have been rejected to site Portland Academy at Southwell Business Park.

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council’s planning committee rejected plans by a vote of eight to four at a packed meeting held at the Portland Heights Hotel yesterday morning.

The panel of councillors heard from Andrew Martin who prepared the report and outlined the proposals, showing pictures of the proposed site.

The panel and the 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.

He said that the government’s advice on proposed plans for new schools was clear.

He said: “The message there is very clear: unless you can see insuperable difficulties you should be supporting state-funded schools.”

The meeting was opened up to the public and parents and 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 Mayor of Portland Les Ames. He called on members of the planning panel to reject the plans.

He said: “I believe in the future of our island.

“I totally oppose this proposal, as does Portland Town Council which has voted twice against it.”

Councillor Paul Kimber said: “I’m very much against this. I say again, the road access and network isn’t fit for this school.”

He said another big objection was that the school did not integrate with the community on the proposed site.

But 16-year-old IPACA student Georgia Corps urged the committee to accept the proposals. She said the business park site was a great site and a blank canvas.

Georgia said she was sad that she would not be able to go to the new sixth form. She said: “The academy is one of the best things I believe could happen to the pupils.”

She added: “This should be about the children and what they should get out of their education.”

Portland resident and spokesman for Compass Point Estates that owns the Southwell site, Matt Longshaw, said: “Compass Estates fully supports this proposal.”

Mum of three young children Katy Pascoe said the new site would provide 21st century facilities including a theatre and pool. She said: “My children, Portland children, deserve to learn in an environment that inspires them to achieve.”

Following a debate by the councillors, Margaret Leicester proposed to reject the plans and the proposal was seconded.

The vote was eight councillors against the plans and four for the plans.