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Frome’s Steiner school planning application is delayed by travel plan

STEINER Academy Frome says it still hopes to move into its Park Road site by September 2014, despite a  delay in resolving their planning application. 

The application has drawn criticism over its travel plan since it was submitted by Frome’s first Free School, in October last year.

Mendip District Council’s planning board was due to consider the application on the 8th May, but the application has been deferred to allow further development of the travel plan.

The Steiner Academy Frome is currently operating from the Corsley Centre, with plans to move into the town once the planning application has been approved and work completed.

The planning board decided to defer the application for up to three months, “to allow officers, in consultation with local Mendip and Somerset elected councillors and the school promoters, to secure more robust measures in the travel plan that will reduce the amount of cars entering and leaving Park Road, and avoid adverse impacts on the local highway network.”

Guy Marson, chair of the school’s governors said, “We will meet with planners over the coming weeks to try and reach a position where Mendip can support approval of our application.

“We have listened to a wide range of interest groups over the past months and feel that we have a very strong case for approval of our application.

“It would appear that members need some more convincing that the travel plan we have in place will work and we are looking at ways we can strengthen this further.

“Whilst these delays are not what we had hoped for, we are still expecting to be on site by September 2014.”

The application seeks for permission to demolish the existing health centre and part of Victoria Hospital, and build new buildings for the school.

Free schools, the coalition government initiative, has already introduced over 80 new schools in England, with  100 more planned to open this year. The all-ability state-funded schools are said to be set up in response to what local people want, and free to attend. The Somerset Association of Secondary Headteachers (SASH) recently criticised free schools calling them “unwelcome and potentially divisive in Somerset.”