Apr 24 2013

Vaughan School Expansion – Flawed from Start to Finish

building_site_13The Vaughan School expansion project seems to be out of its depth – literally.

To recap on events to date: the council published the plans on their website, which promptly lost them, making it impossible to residents and other interested parties to find out what was going on. This led to the council suspending the consultation until the appropriate man with a screwdriver could be called to fix the computer.

Once the website was back up, residents then couldn’t find the application details because the website wasn’t showing the application unless you knew the application number: searching around a postcode wouldn’t work.

Next, the council’s planning committee in mid-April deferred any decision on approving the plans.

The plan to expand the school seems badly flawed. For starters, it calls for the new two-story building to be built on an area of land classified as a “Flood Zone 3b” which limits the type of building which can be constructed there. Sure, some types of buildings are permitted there: docks, marinas and wharfs, for example, MOD defence installations, or flood control infrastructure. Schools, however, are not on the list.

The plan below shows the extent of the flood zone, the largest dark-blue area being Zone 3b.

So apart from the obvious problem of building on an area prone to flooding, how does this affect residents who have houses which back onto the school? Appallingly. The proposed two-story building will allow residents to see straight into school classrooms, and, of course, allow school-children to see straight into residents’ bedrooms. In fact, the school building will be higher than the surrounding properties. You can see this clearer in a mock-up.

Here is a typical view from a neighbour’s back garden as it looks today:

vaughan_2And this view is an illustration of how it might look once complete:

vaughan_3A resident we spoke to explained, “The height of the building is to be 8.9m, the height of our house to the very top of the roof is 8.2m. I’m sure you can understand why we and other residents are fighting so hard to stop this. The lives of many residents would be blighted for ever.”

Monitoring equipment is to be put in the school office to monitor water levels in the re-routed culvert – not quite sure who tells the residents of imminent flooding or who monitors it at night, weekends and during school holidays! Apparently this is not a planning issue but residents nearby have been told they can sign up for text messages from the Environment Agency who can advise of flooding, however as the councils paper say “any flooding is likely to be rapid in onset” we’re not quite sure how this would help.

There’s likely to be much more on this – we’ll let you know as soon as we have further details.


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