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Agenda item

Land at Stone Lodge - Disposal of Land for 8 Form Entry Secondary School and Update on Development Proposals

Key Decision

 

The disposal of part of the Stone Lodge site is of such significance to the locality that the Managing Director is of the opinion that it should be treated as a key decision.

 

Summary:

 

To update Members on the Secretary of State for the Department of Communities and Local Government revised proposals to proceed with the purchase of part of the land at Stone Lodge for an 8 form entry secondary school, to seek authority to agree the revised terms and to update Members on the other development proposals.

 

Recommendations:

 

1.         That, having considered the Council’s Consultant Valuer’s report in confidential Appendix A, no less than 7.7 acres of land at Stone Lodge (as shown on the Master Plan at Appendix B) be disposed of to the Secretary of State for the Department of Communities and Local Government for an 8 form entry secondary school, at potentially less than best consideration, on the terms set out in confidential Appendix A.

 

2.         That the Managing Director be granted delegated authority to agree the exact size of the land take for the 8 form entry secondary school and, if necessary, make amendment(s) to the Master Plan.

 

3.         That the Managing Director, in consultation with the Head of Legal Services, be authorised to finalise the Heads of Terms and complete the transaction.

 

4.         That a report on the appropriation of the land at Stone Lodge for planning purposes be presented to a future Cabinet meeting.

 

5.         That Members receive a presentation on the development proposals at Stone Lodge.

 

6.         That the Managing Director be authorised to submit a hybrid planning application for the site, as set out in para 3.17 of the report, comprising an outline application for the site as a whole and incorporating a detailed application for a rugby club and associated playing pitches.

Minutes:

This report updated Members on the Secretary of State for the Department of Communities and Local Government revised proposals to proceed with the purchase of part of the land at Stone Lodge for an 8 form entry secondary school and sought authority to agree the revised terms. It also updated Members on the other development proposals for the area.

 

  • The Heritage, Events and Projects Manager displayed a map of the Stone Lodge site and explained how meetings were still taking place to agree the exact locations of the various elements. He then referred to the siting of the proposed school in the south west corner and said that the technical issues associated with providing access from either Cotton Lane or London Road were still being assessed. He then drew Members attention to the two residential areas, one near to the existing Judo facility and one in the south east corner of the site, and said that independent access to these areas was being proposed. He then noted how the proposed rugby club site would be located to the north and said that later work would be undertaken to improve the areas of green space by introducing new paths and recreational areas.

 

  • The Heritage, Events and Projects Manager then noted the intention to submit a detailed planning application for the rugby club and an outline planning application for the whole site by the end of November and said that a public exhibition would also be held to gather resident feedback prior to their submission. He then said that the two power lines on the eastern side of the rugby club site were going to be buried underground. He also noted how the first playing pitch to be delivered would be a floodlit all-weather pitch and that the second pitch, to be constructed after the cables have been buried, was likely to be grass. He also showed pictures of the proposed rugby club building and said that it would have a room with views of the river and playing pitches available for community use on the first floor, and a club bar and changing facilities on the ground floor.

 

  • The Heritage, Events and Projects Manager then displayed a plan of the current proposals for the school site and said that ways to address the fact that a public right of way currently passed through part of the site were being considered. He also noted how the school building itself had been sited away from the residential area but said that the current plan would need to be revised following recent discussions, and that the revised versions should be made available for consideration in 6 to 8 weeks.

 

  • In response to a question the Heritage, Events and Projects Manager confirmed that the Judo Club were aware of, and had welcomed the proposals, and had helped by contributing some land for use as a car park.

 

  • Reference was then made to the size of the school plot and the fact that it had reduced from an original required area of 16.6 acres to 7.7 acres. The Heritage, Events and Projects Manager said he felt that the first estimate had been over generous and thought that the reduced footprint had been brought forward to reduce the Education & Skills Funding Agency’s (ESFA’s) associated costs. He also confirmed that the school building would be 3 stories high and would have the capacity to accommodate an 8 form entry school. Members hoped that the reduced land area would not lead to the delivery of a lower standard school and suggested that size comparisons be made with similar existing 8 form entry secondary schools. In response to a further question the Heritage, Events and Projects Manager said that he was unable to confirm whether 6th form classes would be provided at the school.

 

  • Members also referred to the area of the site reserved for recreational use and the Heritage, Events and Projects Manager confirmed that the plans adhered to the previously Cabinet agreed resolution to keep 75% of the site reserved for leisure, recreation and community uses.

 

  • The intention to provide a home for Dartford Valley Rugby Football Club, a private entity, was noted and the need to ensure transparency in this area was expressed. The Heritage, Events and Projects Manager said that it demonstrated the Council’s support for a local club and confirmed that the rugby site would remain Council owned. With respect to the community facilities that were being provided the Heritage, Events and Projects Manager anticipated that they would be run by the rugby club in a similar way to those at Hesketh Park and that measures to ensure their future sustainability would be put in place.

 

  • With respect to the timescales involved for the associated development the Heritage, Events and Projects Manager said that the intention was to deliver the rugby club by the end of 2018 and the school by 2020.

 

  • Members noted the need to consider air quality when assessing traffic movement plans for the area and also asked that electric vehicle charging points be installed in the car parks. The Heritage, Events and Projects Manager confirmed that the installation of charging points was likely to be a planning requirement.

 

  • Members asked whether a leasing option had been considered in relation to the land being provided for the construction of a school. The Heritage, Events and Projects Manager replied that various financial options had been considered as the project had evolved and that the current proposal had been chosen as the preferred option by all involved parties.

 

  • It was also noted that the plans being used measured areas in hectares, whereas the report had referred to acres, and it was suggested that a consistent unit of area measurement be used.

 

  • Members welcomed the intention to provide a further sport facility in the Borough and recognised the benefits that this would provide to residents.

 

  • The Advisory Panel endorsed the report’s recommendations.

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