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Major £4.5m primary school expansion will make it one of the region’s biggest

PUBLISHED: 16:09 20 February 2018

Hillcrest Primary School in Downham Market has been granted planning permission to expand the school, increasing pupil capacity to 630. Picture: Ian Burt

Hillcrest Primary School in Downham Market has been granted planning permission to expand the school, increasing pupil capacity to 630. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

A primary school in West Norfolk is set to become one of the biggest in the region after plans were approved to expand the school.

Hillcrest Primary School in Downham Market has been granted planning permission to expand the school, increasing pupil capacity to 630. Picture: Ian BurtHillcrest Primary School in Downham Market has been granted planning permission to expand the school, increasing pupil capacity to 630. Picture: Ian Burt

Hillcrest Primary School, in Downham Market, currently has capacity for just over 490 pupils, with some being taught in five temporary mobile classrooms.

But Norfolk County Council’s planning committee approved plans to demolish the existing mobile classrooms to make way for a two-storey block, which will increase the pupil capacity to 630.

In a report to the committee, it states that the £4.5m development will include nine classrooms, group and meeting rooms, toilet facilities and plant rooms and stores.

The existing reception class will be extended and an additional 20 car parking spaces will be added for staff and visitors.

The planning application received 18 letters of objection, with many highlighting concerns over traffic problems, amenities and anti-social behaviour.

One said: “The location is unsuitable for the current levels of traffic movement and parking during children drop-off and collection times morning and afternoon.”

In a statement made by the applicant, county council’s children’s services, it acknowledged that the expansion will increase traffic in the area but added that it would include measures to improve vehicle and pedestrian safety with an additional pedestrian route into the site.

It continued: “The school will continue to engage with children and parents to encourage travel to school by sustainable means and have consideration to neighbours if delivering children by car.”

It also added that problems with parents blocking driveways during the school run is a matter for the police to address.

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said the plans are part of the county council’s £169m programme to develop new and extended schools to ensure there are sufficient school places across the county, to meet the demands of both population growth and housing development.

Once the expansion is complete, the school will be one of the biggest primary schools in the county along with Queen’s Hill Primary in Costessey, Sheringham Primary, Catton Grove Primary and Robert Kett Primary, Wymondham - all of which have a similar capacity.

The report states the existing temporary classrooms will be removed by summer 2019.

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