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City centre car park at heart of wrangle over new Norwich primary school

The car park, off Rouen Road in Norwich, which is at the centre of a school versus housing wrangle between the city and county council. Photo: Steve Adams

The car park, off Rouen Road in Norwich, which is at the centre of a school versus housing wrangle between the city and county council. Photo: Steve Adams

Copyright Archant Norfolk 2014

Education bosses look set to be given two years to prove a new primary school is needed in the heart of Norwich, after a wrangle over a patch of city centre land.

The land, currently a pay and display car park and industrial units, off Rouen Road, is at the heart of a disagreement between Norfolk County Council and Norwich City Council which stretches back more than three years.

Norfolk County Council wanted the land, either side of Garden Street, to be allocated in a blueprint for potential future development in the city, as a possible site for a new 210-place primary school.

The county council has said the school is likely to be needed in around 2020 to 2021, taking in youngsters from Lakenham, Mancroft and Thorpe Hamlet wards, along with Trowse.

They wanted the site, which is just over a hectare, allocated for that purpose to safeguard it from development.

But Norwich City Council, in a blueprint submitted for approval by a planning inspector, earmarked the land as being potentially suitable for up to a hundred new homes.

However, the planning inspector has now recommended a rewording of the blueprint - known as the site allocations plan - so the county council is given a four year period to establish whether the school is needed and, if it is, to get its plans lodged.

The inspector has recommended that the blueprint states Norfolk County Council must produce a detailed study by the end of 2016 assessing if Garden Street is the most suitable site for a school in the area.

If an alternative site is deemed more appropriate, then from January 2017, the preferred option for the site will be that up to 100 homes can be built there.

But if the site, owned by Norwich City Council. is considered to be the most suitable in the area for a school, then the county council would have to get a planning application lodged within four years.

Stephen Faulkner, principal infrastructure and economic growth planner at Norfolk County Council, said: “We very much welcome the planning inspector’s proposed modified policy, which safeguards the Garden Street site for a new primary school.

“While the safeguarding of the site is time limited, the proposed policy does allow us the opportunity to undertake a detailed study, by end of 2016, to assess whether this is the most appropriate site in the area for a new school.

“If the Garden Street site is deemed to be the most suitable, a planning application will need to be submitted by summer 2018.”

The modifications proposed by the inspector still have to go out for public consultation, which runs until the end of July.

Following its adoption, the blueprint will be used to assess future planning applications.

A spokeswoman for Norwich City Council said: “The city council will shortly be making its response to the inspector’s proposed modifications as part of the consultation. The inspector will take all representations into account in his final report, which is expected to be published in September.”

The city council has been keen to see the King Street area of Norwich regenerated and is looking to build a £7m 600-space multi-storey car park on the corner of Mountergate and Rose Lane.

• Do you have an education story? Call education reporter Martin George on 01603 772468 or email martin.george@archant.co.uk

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