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Plans for 420-space Lakenheath primary school set to be approved next week despite noise concerns

Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich. (4702063)
Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House, Ipswich. (4702063)

Approval for a 420-place primary school in Lakenheath is set to be given the green light next week – despite fears its location beneath a flight path will create noise issues.

Four planning applications totalling 663 homes have already been granted permission by Forest Heath District Council, with primary school provision considered a key part of that.

A phased build of a 420 place primary school and 30-space pre-school have been earmarked for Station Road as part of that, with Suffolk County Council’s development and regulation committee set to formally approve planning permission for the school on Tuesday.

The first phase will deliver a 210-place school with necessary facilities such as a kitchen, hall and offices, as well as the pre-school.

A spokesman from Suffolk County Council said: “The school has been designed with flexible spaces which will facilitate expansion if the school needs to grow and it can also accommodate use by the local community outside the school day. If planning permission is granted, we would expect building work to start on site in summer 2019 for opening in September 2020.”

The planning report said that the existing primary school is close to capacity and did not have any space to expand further. The primary school alone is expected to create 36 full time jobs.

The report added: “The school buildings have been designed so that some spaces can be used flexibly. The buildings can also be adapted as the school grows and the curriculum changes. Provision is made for out-of-hours use of the main hall and studio spaces by the local community.”

The application site also includes an area of land that can be used for future expansion.

Lakenheath Parish Council had previously objected to the approval for 663 homes, and has submitted an objection to the school proposals citing concerns over noise activity from the nearby RAF base, additional traffic and road safety.

The county council’s noise officer confirmed that aircraft sound could have a significant impact for lessons outside, but said the area was “relatively quiet for the majority of the time”.

The head of planning said that the countryside location meant plans for a school there went against the development plan, but the importance of a new school meant it was acceptable.