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Lakenheath school row to go to Planning Court later this year

PUBLISHED: 15:13 07 February 2019 | UPDATED: 11:15 08 February 2019

Lakenheath Parish Council says the proximity to the nearby RAF base and the land's position beneath the flightpath meant there would be severe noise impacts on teaching. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Lakenheath Parish Council says the proximity to the nearby RAF base and the land's position beneath the flightpath meant there would be severe noise impacts on teaching. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A new 420-place primary school planned for Lakenheath despite objections over noise from nearby jets is to be the subject of a judicial review, after the High Court upheld a challenge by the parish council.

Proposed site for new school  Picture: GOOGLE MAPSProposed site for new school Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

In October, Suffolk County Council’s development and regulation committee approved plans for the school off Station Road, to help meet demand expected from more than 660 homes being built nearby.

But Lakenheath Parish Council raised objections to the scheme, citing the noise impact its location beneath an RAF jet flightpath would have on teaching.

A legal review was launched in December, with a High Court ruling from January 28 confirming that the parish council had won the right to challenge the decision at a judicial review.

It means the Planning Court will hear a detailed case later in the year.

Councillor Hermione Brown, chairman of Lakenheath Parish Council’s planning sub-committee, said: “LPC has for many years been arguing that all planning for Lakenheath should be sustainable development that is driven by a plan led plan and not driven by speculative developers.

“An additional school would be needed with the possibility of 660 plus houses destined for the village.

“If this is to happen then we believe a school should be appropriately situated, well away from the jet flight path with all its noise and safety implications.

“Above all we want to protect the children of our community which is why we have so strongly resisted the inappropriate siting of a proposed school on land directly under a military jet flight path.”

The parish council’s independent noise assessment concluded that levels would be in excess of World Health Organisation guidelines.

The challenge was upheld on the basis that the county council failed to properly assess the environmental impacts of alternative sites, but dismissed on two other counts.

A protective costs order has also been issued for the parish council, which means it will not be subject to adverse costs of any more than £15,000.
A spokesman from Suffolk County Council said: “The county council considers the judicial review claim is misconceived.

“The new school has been designed to be suitable for use in Lakenheath, taking into account site specific concerns including noise.

“The new school will provide sufficient places for pupils arising from proposed housing developments in the local area, to meet expected local needs.

“The proposed location for the school is shown by official figures to be in the quietest part of the village.

“Two of the three grounds of claim have been rejected by the court already, and the county council will continue to oppose the claim when it comes before the Planning Court.”

A date for the hearing has not yet been revealed.

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