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Proposed Ipswich Central Primary School at former Co-op in Ipswich town centre questioned by NEU

PUBLISHED: 17:50 30 October 2017 | UPDATED: 17:50 30 October 2017

Sandy Martin MP and borough council leader David Ellesmere outside the former Co-op in Carr Street earlier this year. 
Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Sandy Martin MP and borough council leader David Ellesmere outside the former Co-op in Carr Street earlier this year. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A proposed primary free school at the former Co-op department store in Ipswich town centre is “wholly unsuitable” and should be reconsidered, a teaching union has said.

A multi-party agreement was reached in June to open Ipswich Central Primary School in Carr Street by the East of England Co-op, Ipswich Borough Council (IBC), Suffolk County Council, the Active Learning Trust (ALT) which was approved as the sponsor, and the government’s Education and Skills Funding Agency.

Former Co-op store in Ipswich town centre to become primary school.

It is due to open in September 2019, initially with a reception class of 30 pupils, growing to a 420-pupil school with a nursery accommodating up to 52 pupils on a part-time basis. The estimated construction cost has not been disclosed.

Last night, Paul Rea, president of the Ipswich branch of the National Education Union (NEU), raised concerns over traffic and air pollution.

He said: “While the Ipswich NEU recognises the need for the creation of school places, particularly primary school, we’re diametrically opposed to free schools. However, we oppose this proposed development for a plethora of reasons.

“Firstly, the likely impact on the health of potential pupils, their parents and teachers, not to mention many of the town’s residents due to the site being located on the fringes of an air quality management site. Asthma is just one of a myriad of consequences that are worsened by the effects of high levels of air pollution.

“In addition the site is located adjacent to a busy car park, where visitors to the town centre frequently park and where cars are often found idling, exacerbating an already poor choice of location for a primary school.

“(School drop-offs) may add significantly to the congestion which is already a problem in this part of the town and therefore pose an economic cost to businesses.

“The proposed site is wholly unsuitable (and) we would urge those involved in the proposal to think again about the planned site and consult widely among education experts prior to considering other options and beginning construction.”

The ALT declined to comment but its chief executive Gary Peile has previously the free school will be a “really excellent resource”.

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