Plans for up to 200 homes refused after new primary school taken out of proposal

Councillors Sylvia Walmsley (left) and Lynn Hall (right) spoke during a Stockton Council planning committee meeting
-Credit: (Image: Stockton Council)


Proposals to build up to 200 homes have been refused after a new primary school was cut from the plans.

The development of up to 200 homes with a neighbourhood centre and community centre near Low Lane and Thornaby Road came before Stockton Council's planning committee for a third time this week. The plans were previously considered in 2019 and 2020.

Planning permission was granted on both occasions, but it came back for councillors to look at again because of changes to its terms. The plans had included giving up land for a new primary school because of a lack of school places.

Planning services manager Simon Grundy said there was no longer a need to secure land for a new primary school because of demographic changes in Ingleby Barwick which meant existing schools could take on more children. There was also a change over bus services, to provide a footpath and new bus stops rather than a new service.

Steve Barker, managing director of agents Prism Planning, told the committee: "I'm sorry you're having to debate this yet again and hope you'll confirm the same decision you made on the last two occasions. This application isn't being brought before you at our request and we haven't changed anything on our side."

He said they kept land available for the school, but the education department "simply don't require it now" and believed improvements could be made at existing schools. He added: "We aren't proposing that. We're simply accepting it as the current way forward."

Developers want to get on 'before any new surprises'

He said they also proposed a spine road for a bus route, but would now struggle to find an operator for a new service. So they would upgrade footpaths to connect with existing services instead.

He said: "This scheme is the same as the one you approved at the beginning of covid and it hasn't changed. I hope that, knowing this, you'll be able to ratify the scheme again and we can get the developers on site before any new surprises hinder any more attempts to develop it."

Council officers recommended approving the plan. However Councillor Sylvia Walmsley said: "There's traffic problems already.

"This will be channelling more traffic on to Thornaby Road, and yet other developers further down are being told Thornaby Road is dangerous. We're just not consistent.

'Chip away and chip away'

"It's coalescing, it's bringing Ingleby Barwick even further towards Thornaby. How much longer we can retain that green wedge and farmland is a matter of opinion.

"I don't like the fact that the school has been dropped because obviously more houses will mean more children. Yes it might not be needed at this time but in five years' time I think schools probably will be at capacity or over capacity."

She referred to the refusal of plans for Wynyard last month where the number of new homes under various proposals could have increased by more than 50%: "What's to stop them coming back and saying, 'Instead of 200 houses we want 250'? This is what we see over and over again with developers.

"They come back and back and back and chip away and chip away, 'we'll have an extra five, an extra 10, an extra 50'. And all of a sudden, what was planned for a couple of hundred houses turns into 1,000.

"I really think it needs addressing. If a developer gets outline (permission) for 200 houses, that's it. It doesn't come back for more later."

'We haven't had the sufficient detail'

Head of legal services Julie Butcher said a planning inspector did not believe previously that Thornaby and Ingleby Barwick would become joined. She said: "We fought that at the last appeal and lost it.

She added: "There are mitigation measures to improve traffic flows along Thornaby Road due to any increased traffic from this development."

Cllr Lynn Hall expressed concern about the schools' capacity and said a previous report suggested a new primary school might be needed in 20 years' time. She said: "The fact we're taking out this site does have a major impact on what was decided way back in 2020.

"We haven't had the sufficient detail, in my opinion, linked to the school provision in that particular area of the borough."

Mr Grundy said the school matter had been discussed at length by officers and "there isn't that need right now for that school". He urged caution about rejecting the plans because of the school.

Ms Butcher said: "Things do fluctuate. I'm sure there will be a period in five, 10, 15, 20 years when we may need another primary school. But at this time we can't say that and you can't require an applicant to provide something just because."

She suggested deferring the decision for more information. But councillors voted 8-6 to refuse it because of a lack of safe and sustainable routes for primary schoolchildren, facilities, bus routes, traffic congestion, road safety and coalescence between Ingleby Barwick and Thornaby.