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Friday, 22 August 2014

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Carlisle parents say school expansion rejection would harm children

Don't allow the children to be let down again – that’s the call from parents who want two overcrowded schools to be extended.

Kingmoor school photo
Paul Wakefield and son Jack look at proposed change

A new blueprint to expand the Kingmoor schools in Lowry Hill was tabled earlier this month.

Previous plans had been scrapped when council planners failed to give consent amid concerns over traffic, parking and congestion in and around the infant and nursery school on Hether Drive and junior school on Liddle Close.

The latest proposals were on display at a drop-in session at Kingmoor Junior School on Thursday, during the official consultation period for the planning application.

Leanne Russell lives in St Ann’s. Her son Charlie, who is nine, is in year five at the junior school. He walks most days, but at least twice a week he is picked up by car because of his mother’s work commitments.

Mrs Russell said: “Because of what has happened in the past this needs to happen now, there were just not enough spaces for the children coming here.

“However, if they hadn’t have knocked down Belah School in the first place we would not have this issue now and they’ve missed an opportunity to build a new school on the old Belah site.

“It is disappointing we’re in this position but we’ve got to the point now that it has to happen otherwise these children are being let down again. I think the plans will have to go through.”

Meanwhile, excitement over prospects of new facilities at the schools appears to be growing.

Paul Wakefield and his children Anna and Jack live within a few minutes’ walk of the schools. He said: “We’re looking forward to seeing them get the new resource centre in the junior school. It would be nice for them to have that extra space. I know the children are excited about the plans.”

The extensions are needed to cater for soaring numbers of pupils already attending the schools, and the increased intakes predicted in future years.

Two new classrooms are being proposed for the infant school, while a further two classrooms, a learning resource centre, five other rooms and stores are on the cards for the juniors. The proposals also ask for planning consent to increase the number of parking spaces from 39 to 58. Playgrounds are to be extended and covered cycle and scooter bays installed.

Measures have also been introduced to tackle traffic issues and allay persistent concerns, including a new road crossing to encourage more children to walk to school.

The planning application is expected to go before members of Cumbria County Council’s development control panel next month.

The proposals form just a part of the county council’s £12.5m “Transforming Learning” scheme that will result in 10 Carlisle schools and two in Penrith expanded to create 1,200 extra primary school places.

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