Plans for ‘fantastic’ new facilities for Willingdon Community School have been approved unanimously.
Changes are needed to accommodate a projected rise in the number of pupils from the current 1,000 to 1,200 by 2024.
The main part of the new development is the demolition of an accommodation block and its replacement with a new four-court sports hall.
A number of other changes proposed by East Sussex County Council are set to improve circulation around the school, while extra car and cycle parking will also be provided.
The proposals were approved by the county council’s Planning Committee unanimously today (Wednesday April 18).
According to the council: “This scheme will bring the educational facilities up to date and offer wide community access to sports facilities.”
Independent Democrat Stephen Shing, who represents Willingdon and South Downs, said: “I welcome this proposal which we want for an enlarged school in our area for a long time.”
He highlighted a long-term parking problem in the vicinity and although the council encourages walking and cycling to school he suggested this was not really happening anywhere in East Sussex.
Labour’s Godfrey Daniel added: “This is an improvement, it’s a popular school and long may it be so and we need it to have the capacity to take the children. The need is clear and the design is good.”
His proposal for a condition to ensure the community use of the sports hall continues in perpetuity, in the event the school was converted to an academy, was accepted by committee members.
Conservative Tom Liddiard added: “I think this is fantastic and much-needed in the local area.”
He described how the area around the school was busy during rush hour, but hoped the school’s updated travel plan would go some way towards addressing residents’ concerns.
The application includes an extension to the existing car park to the east of the site and a new area off Broad Road at the front of the school.
This will add an extra 28 parking spaces, bringing the total to 64 on the site.
Meanwhile a covered area for bike storage will have a 72-space capacity.
A grass verge next to the bus stop in Broad Road will be converted to hard standing to improve the waiting area for pupils and allow buses to use the entire length of the stop without having to wait alongside grass verges.
The school’s two entrance lobbies will be extended to accommodate increased movement of pupils, while a new first-floor corridor next to the gym will aim to improve circulation.
The gym will be refurbished to provide extra teaching space.
Officers explained how the original school buildings dated back to 1956, with expansions in 1975, 1993 and 2000.
The building due to be demolished to make way for the sports hall was built in 1975 and is ‘at the end of its serviceable life’.