The planning inquiry into plans for the new school and campus at Seashell Trust closed last week and will now go before the Secretary of State for a final decision.
The five-week long inquiry into Seashell’s appeal against Stockport Council’s decision to refuse the application for the planning application for the new school and campus with a specialist recreational centre and hydrotherapy pool, together with the housing which would fund the project, heard closing statements yesterday and has now completed.
In his closing statement to the inquiry, Giles Cannock, QC for Seashell, said:
“This is a proposal conceived after a painstaking masterplan process by a Charitable Trust which performs outstanding work with the most complex and vulnerable cohort of children in the country.
“It is agreed that the school is not fit for purpose and that a replacement building is required. However, funding is required, in the absence of any state funding. The only source of funding is providing housing on the Trust’s land. The provision of such housing will deliver much needed market and affordable housing.
“It is genuinely difficult to conceive of a more powerful set of very special circumstances.”
Seashell Trust Chief Executive Jolanta McCall said of the appeal:
“The appeal has been a thorough and transparent examination of all the evidence in this complicated case and I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone on the Seashell team who has worked so hard in the run up to, and during this inquiry. We believe we have presented all the evidence to support our case.
“Our current school is desperately outdated and no longer fit for purpose and we are struggling to meet the challenging needs of our pupils because of the constraints of the building. We need a new school and campus but have to sell some of our land to help fund this redevelopment. We have made that case through the appeal process and now we have to await the final decision which we very much hope will be in our favour.”
The inquiry follows three years of scrutiny and discussion of the Trust’s masterplan between Seashell and the Council which resulted in the application being recommended for approval by the planning officers at the Council. However, the application was rejected against that recommendation by the Council’s Planning Committee last year.
After careful consideration, Seashell decided to appeal against the decision and in May of this year an inspector opened the inquiry into the appeal against the Council’s refusal of the planning application. Seashell called 12 witnesses in support of its case at the inquiry at which it has sought to demonstrate the very special circumstances that policy requires must exist to justify development in the green belt.
The planning inspector will now write a report and make a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. The minister will make the final decision on the planning application.