School set to grow

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A planned major expansion of a Bognor Regis school has moved a stage closer.

The proposal to extend popular St Mary’s Catholic Primary School by a third has seen a senior councillor asked to approve the publication of the legal notices necessary for the increased size to take effect.

Peter Griffiths, the county council’s cabinet member for education and schools, is expected to give his agreement soon.

The principle of the intended expansion will be accepted if no significant and reasonable objections are received within a month.

A report by the council’s executive director finance and performance, Richard Hornby, says: “An initial outline feasibility study shows the works required to enable the increase in numbers is possible on the site.

“However, further investigative works will be required should the proposals be approved to ensure there is no negative impact, particularly on the outside play area.

“The school will remain a voluntary-aided Catholic school and the aim of the proposals is to ensure all those parents who would prefer a Catholic education for their children are able to access a place in a Catholic setting.”

The proposal is to expand St Mary’s, in Glamis Street, from 238 places for four to 11-year-olds to 315 places ready for September 2013.

A consultation into the plan showed 26 respondents in favour and four against. The concerns centred around fears larger class sizes would affect children’s education, potential disruption caused by building work and overcrowding on the site.

Two people were concerned the school’s Catholic ethos would be diluted if non-Catholics filled some of the new places.

There were also worries about an increase in traffic congestion around the school gates and a lack of parking.

A delay in creating the extra spaces could mean children having to travel to other areas of Bognor and beyond to be educated and siblings at different schools, he wrote.

Planning approval for the extra buildings for the expansion is needed separately.