Go-ahead for new primary school serving East Devon village that will provide ‘21st century education’ for pupils

East Devon planning bosses have approved plans for a new primary school serving Uplyme that  promises to provide a ‘21st century education’ for pupils. 

The two-storey building with car parking, all-weather play and sports area, and grass playing field has been a long-term ambition of Mrs Ethelston’s CE Primary Academy.

District council Planning Committee members this week approved detailed proposals for the plot off Lyme Road – despite fears over highway safety issues the scheme could cause the village hall and petrol station.

In granting the permission on Wednesday, councillors urged the East Devon Highways and Traffic Orders Committee to look into ways any impact could be reduced.

The school’s executive headteacher Andrea Rice told the meeting it was difficult to deliver a modern curriculum on its existing, ‘crammed’ site.

She added: “There is no room for us to expand and the usual facilities you would expect in a school are not available.

“We have no hall for worship and PE and dining is a problem as children have to eat meals in the classroom, and the playground is too small so we have to have staggered breaks.

“We have no green space for children to play in, no space for teaching drama and arts and outside learning, and our ambition is limited by the building.”

All but four of the 77 public comments made on the application were in support of it.

East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) development manager Chris Rose said the parish council and operators of the petrol station opposite the site strongly objected to the mooted access to the school plot.

He added: “It is suggested that this could result in the closure of the petrol station and associated post office and store, leaving the village devoid of such facilities.

“It is argued that separate access/egress points serving the school would improve the flow of traffic and provide a more appropriate means of access.

“But Devon County Council, as the highways authority, has considered the application in detail and raised no objections to it, considering the single access/egress point to be the most appropriate option to serve the site and that sufficient information has been submitted to consider the traffic impacts.

“It is also considered that the proposal would be likely to reduce some of the off-site highway issues relating to the current school site which lacks parking provision.”

Councillor Ian Thomas, who represents the Trinity ward in which the plot lies, said: “I have supported the principle of development on this site for a new school to safeguard a sustainable future for 21st century education in the village as this isn’t possible on the current site.”

Mrs Ethelston’s CE Primary Academy has occupied its current site since 1854.

The new school would be able accommodate 210 children  – an increase of 25.

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