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Multi-million pound project go-ahead

PUBLISHED: 22:17 24 April 2004 | UPDATED: 04:49 02 March 2010

A CONTROVERSIAL multi-million pound scheme to redevelop a primary school site in Woodbridge is poised for approval.

The news comes after planning officers recommended that the project was acceptable.

A CONTROVERSIAL multi-million pound scheme to redevelop a primary school site in Woodbridge is poised for approval.

The news comes after planning officers recommended that the project was acceptable.

But the scheme is so important to the future of Woodbridge and has generated such enormous interest that it is expected that last-minute lobbying will take place and further correspondence will be submitted before a decision is made by Suffolk Coastal councillors on April 29.

Officers have basically asked councillors to approve all the plans for the complex redevelopment proposals, although fine-tuning of the New Street school site is particularly required.

Nearly 1,000 people have registered their opinions and the majority were against the scheme. The aim is to extend the main school building in New Street and convert it into a public library, housing and flats. Temporary classrooms would be demolished and replaced by two terraces. The total number of properties would be 23.

The school would move to the school's playing field in Pytches Road, Melton, where a site has been reserved for a primary school for more than 50 years. The current public library in New Street would be demolished. A three-storey building with medical facilities on the ground floor and seven maisonettes above would be built.

A total of 92 letters of support have been received, 61 of which were a standard letter. The supporters argue that the present school is outdated and has many drawbacks, and a new school would provide enhanced education facilities.

Some supporters said: ''The opposition from the Melton Grange Residents' Association is based solely on their desire to retain their property values, the residents were well aware of the proposals for a new school prior to the purchase of their properties.''

However, there are 86 letters of objection, 25 of which were a standard letter, and 703 objection letters have been submitted by the Melon Grange Residents' Association, which comprise of four different types of standard letter. These are signed mainly by Woodbridge and Melton residents, and shopkeepers, and people from further afield.

The Association said: ''We are asking the plans for all these proposals to be called-in, so that they are decided not by Suffolk county council who are in effect judge, jury and executioner. They own the land, they build the school, they determine if the road is suitable or not, they make their own recommendations to their own committee who then give planning permission. To the outsider, it doesn't seem a very level playing field.''

It has proposed an alternative scheme to build 15 houses on half of the playing field in Pytches Road and use the income to refurbish the school in New Street. Another proposal is to build houses on all the playing field and build the school at the redundant Melton Grange hotel.

Planning officers are worried about the loss of trees at New Street and the height of the new houses. Suffolk Coastal makes the decision on the library and New Street school sites, and the county makes the decision on the new school site.

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