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Withdrawal of planning application for Jane Austen College free school in Norwich ‘will not affect its opening in any way’

PUBLISHED: 12:00 29 January 2014

Claire Heald principal of Jane Austen College outside the building on Colegate, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

Claire Heald principal of Jane Austen College outside the building on Colegate, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

The planning application for Norwich’s newest secondary school has been withdrawn so concerns about narrow pavements outside can be addressed.

The Jane Austen College, a specialist humanities free school, last month announced it would open in office space on Colegate, currently used by Aviva.

The school’s backers said the withdrawal of the planning application did not affect the school’s location, and it would open as planned in September 2014.

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The school is set to house up to 1,100 pupils when fully operational, and a letter accompanying the planning application said the building currently has capacity for nearly 1,000 office workers.

It added: “We do not consider that the use of the building for a school with a similar capacity will present any significant issues with regard to the pedestrian access.”

However, Norwich City Council transport planner Kieran Yates said in a report that converting it into a school would be “a significant intensification of use of the building”, and the school hours and younger age of the people using it meant that there would be some “significant localised impacts and risks” that would all need to be mitigated.

He said the pavements on Colegate and the Colegate end of St George’s Street were narrow, and there was poor visibility for pedestrians at the Colegate entrance due to cars parked on either side.

He wrote: “For this reason a footway build out (that would also be used by vehicles entering the site) would be essential to provide adequate space for pedestrians and to improve their visibility to vehicles.

“Therefore, the highway authority recommendation is that a footway build out at the Colegate (archway) entrance is essential in all circumstances.”

Claire Heald, principal of Jane Austen College, said: “We are aware that our initial application has been withdrawn and this is simply part of the normal consultation process.

“We are working closely with planners and taking on board their comments.

“A further application will be submitted and we expect a swift and positive response. The timeline for the opening of Jane Austen College will not be affected in any way.”

What do you think? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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