Appeal debates Sidcot boarding house fate

PUBLISHED: 07:00 12 June 2015

Sidcot School.

Sidcot School.

Archant

AN INDEPENDENT school in a North Somerset village has told an appeal hearing it needs an extra boarding house to provide ‘pre-university standard’ accommodation for its pupils, despite widespread opposition from the community and North Somerset Council.

Sidcot School has twice been refused planning permission by the council for a 53-bed boarding house for students in fields off Fountain Lane, in Winscombe.

The matter will now be decided by the planning inspectorate after a two-day appeal hearing took place last week at Winscombe Cricket Club, in The Lynch.

A spokesman for the school told the appeal chairman Matthew Birkinshaw: “This facility is about us being able to continue providing a boarding facility at Sidcot.

“The quality of accommodation we are providing is always going up. We want to create pre-university standard accommodation for our sixth form students.

“This house will have a wing for girls and a wing for boys, but their social area will be much more together, which is right for children who are about to go to university.”

Planning permission for the boarding house was denied by the council because members judged it would result in the ‘harmful encroachment of development into the countryside, which will be out of keeping with the rural landscape character and quality of the area’.

Its principal planning officer David Tate said: “In my view this is not the location for this sort of building.

“The school, which is in the countryside, needs to choose a location first and then build around it.

“People feel it is a good idea but it is in the wrong location.”

Resident John Haynes, who attended the meeting, previously told the Mercury: “We are absolutely not against the school extending and building the boarding house – we are just against the building being situated in this location.”

A ruling is expected in July.

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