Plans for new Blackburn free school put at risk by high court
12:00pm Sunday 3rd November 2013 in News
PLANS by the Tauheedul trust to open its purpose-built new boys’ school in Blackburn in September have been put at risk by the High Court.
This week it quashed the planning permission to demolish the former YMCA building in Clarence Street to make way for the 700-pupil Islamic academy.
Judge Mark Pelling accepted the case, made by nearby resident Ibrahim Shafi on behalf of neighbours including Blackburn Subscription Bowling Club, that advice given to councillors was incorrect.
The original Tauheedul application fell foul of borough rules on parking and traffic congestion.
In August, Blackburn with Darwen planning committee approved a revised scheme with an extra 16 parking spaces replacing the original outdoor games area.
Officials said this left an ‘acceptable’ amount of outdoor recreation space at the ‘free school’.
Judge Pelling decided this advice broke the council’s rules and a new application should be submitted.
The earliest this could be considered is later this month - delaying plans by at least three months.
Borough deputy chief executive Andrew Lightfoot said: “The council agreed to the quashing of the planning consents solely on the basis of a technical point. It is expected the applicant will re-apply, in which case the council will ensure any issues are addressed."
The objectors’ solicitor Justin Neal said: “The council have said the key legal point was ‘technical’. That may be true when it comes to legal procedure, but how much space children should have to play is fundamental.
“As the highways department was concerned about traffic, the developer agreed to give up pupil-space for car parking.
“If the site area earmarked must be used for outdoor space, cars will have to park on the street.
“The council will need to reconsider the rationale of locating a school where there is insufficient space and parking has reached saturation.”
Committee chairman Dave Smith said: “There is a possibility this may delay the September opening.”
Tauheedul Islam Boys' High School head Linda Thompson said: “The intention now is to proceed with another application in which the technicality is dealt with.
"It may mean the process of opening a new school will be slightly delayed."
Mr Shafi said: "How on earth can children get the exercise they need? The idea of putting 700 children in such a small space was never realistic.
"I support Tauheedul's plans to open a school. It is simply the wrong place."
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