The local school - coming soon to a pub or funeral parlour near you!

Fiona Millar's picture
That is not a joke. The government wants to speed up the creation of new schools and remove what is evidently sees as irritating planning blocks. Ministers are therefore proposing that free school promoters should not have to get local planning permission for a 'change of use'  for premises they want to use for the new schools.

It is worth reading the consultation from the Department of Communities and Local Government. It appears to be proposing that, without planning permission,  schools could be set up in: Shops, retail warehouses, hairdressers, undertakers, travel and ticket agencies, post offices (but not sorting offices) pet shops, sandwich bars, showrooms, domestic hire shops, dry cleaners, funeral directors and internet cafes, banks, building societies, estate agencies, employment agencies and betting offices, hotels, boarding and guest houses, residential care homes, prisons, detention centres, military barracks, cinemas, music and concert halls, bingo and dance halls (but not night clubs), swimming baths, skating rinks, gymnasia, outdoor sports areas, restaurants and cafes, public houses and wine bars, hot food takeaways, industrial buildings (but not those used for incineration, chemical treatment, landfill or hazardous waste), dwelling houses, including houses in multiple occupation. Presumably previous residents will have joined the housing benefit exodus from urban areas.

You will be pleased to hear that while dual use is encouraged - schools can take a floor in an office block for example - it might not be appropriate to house a school in the upstairs function room of a pub. The consultation also appears to remove the normal requirement for new schools to have a Travel Plan showing how access to the school will have the least impact on local traffic and nearby residents. One local councillor – a Liberal Democrat – pointed out to me that rather than being democratic localism in action, this is a recipe for local anarchy. It could also set a precedent for the removal from local authorities of the power to block anything that central government wants to promote.

Closing date is December 10.Please respond to us and the Department!
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