Scrutiny panel takes no further action over Forest Bridge School decision

Grace Witherden

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Grace Witherden

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A panel voted to take no further action after a report about the future of Forest Bridge School was ‘called-in’ to an overview and scrutiny panel.

On Thursday, March 23, the Royal Borough's cabinet agreed a Heads of Terms arrangement which would allow Forest Bridge School to submit a planning application for a new school building in Braywick Park.

The free school for children with autism is currently based in the former Oldfield School building in Chiltern Road, and the new site will see the school move to an area behind the Stafferton Lodge restaurant.

The report was ‘called-in’ to the culture and communities overview and scrutiny panel by Cllr Simon Werner (Lib Dem, Pinkneys Green) because some councillors believed it should have received scrutiny before the cabinet meeting and no public consultation had been held.

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Werner said: “I don’t feel in the report so far there has been a lot of detail in the consultations that have taken place with other users of Braywick Park.

“I’m really disappointed this didn’t go to the culture and communities panel before the cabinet meeting. We had one on the 21st and it was only 30 minutes long  — there was room on the agenda to have it discussed.

“There’s a lot of land that’s going to be coming up and passed out over the next few years, each of those needs to be scrutinised by the right people.”

Speaking on behalf of the free school, Jo Haswell, its chair of governors, said the school offered something unique for children in the borough and as part of the planning process there would be a consultation.

She said the school hoped to have permanent accommodation by September 2017, but it received planning advice that an application for land it owned at the BCA site in Burchetts Green was not going to be successful due to heritage issues.

She said: “Think of us as being an asset in the community.”

A presentation was delivered by council officer David Scott, who said that a consultation was carried out as part of the Braywick Leisure Centre consultation.

He said 110 responses were received about the new leisure centre and no comments were made about the relocation of Forest Bridge School.

Cllr Lynne Jones (Ind, Old Windsor) was quick to point out the press release sent out by the Royal Borough about the leisure centre did not ask residents to comment about Forest Bridge School.

She said: “In the last line of the press release it states Forest Bridge will relocate to the site and this will be a separate project.”

Cllr Claire Stretton (Con, Boyn Hill) said the borough was short of public open space and if building takes place on Braywick Park this would be redesignated in the Borough Local Plan

Speaking to the panel, she said: “You are backing a political decision, the planning process is there for a separate purpose.”

The panel was given three options to consider, which included taking no further action, referring the decision back to cabinet for reconsideration or referring the matter to full council.

The panel voted to take no further action.

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