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Chesham school set for expansion

An extra 400 students will be able to go to the Chiltern Hills Academy.

Published by Dan Gooding with contributions by Local Democracy Reporter Oliver Sirrell at 1:29pm 17th July 2020. 4-minute read.

Chesham school set for expansion

Ambitious plans to transform Chiltern Hills Academy have been given the go-ahead by Buckinghamshire planning bosses despite traffic concerns from neighbours.

The secondary school’s expansion will see an extra 400 students studying at the academy by the time the makeover is complete, with 46 more staff also set to join.

Following approval, Chiltern Hills will get:

  • A new two-storey teaching block to the west of the site, which will adjoin the existing performing arts facilities to the east.
  • Two two-storey extensions added to the north and east sides of the existing building
  • A new single court multi-use games area south of the new western-side teaching block
  • A new pedestrian access from Chartridge Lane along the south-eastern side of the entrance road into the school site
  • An extension to the car parking area to provide a total of 121 school staff car parking
  • And more.

The plan was approved following a plea from speaker Kevin Patrick, who told Buckinghamshire Council’s strategic sites committee:

“Chiltern Hills is the only non-selective secondary school serving a three-mile radius around the town of Chesham.

“It is now a full school: over-subscribed in a number of year groups and parents in the community unable to gain places for their children.

“Other local schools are full and this means that children in future years, if this proposal is not approved, will need to take long journeys across Buckinghamshire for their secondary school studies.

“The final designs being submitted will offer the community of Chesham a school which has been fully refurbished with space to accept larger year groups.

“This development, when completed, will provide the best learning and teaching facilities for the young people of Chesham and the surrounding area.”

This came after temporary permission was granted by the committee for a two-storey, eight-classroom teaching block to go up at the site for the next three years while the expansion work takes place.

School - Classroom
There will be space for 400 more students at the Chiltern Hills Academy

The two separate applications prompted several objections from neighbours and residents, primarily based on traffic safety concerns, harm to the green belt and a lack of community engagement and accompanying information.

One neighbour speaking on the first application for the temporary building said:

“I’m a resident of Chartridge Lane and we’re long-standing sufferers of the unmanaged school traffic and parking provisions in the area.

“We as residents are supportive of the provision of education in the area, however, there is a distinct lack of consideration of the impact of the development displayed in the application.

“Getting in and out of our driveway is already very dangerous. When we reverse out, children are forced to step into a fast, busy road and walk around the car.

“What you have here is confined parking space, high levels of pedestrians, increased traffic, narrow access, and no speed restrictions whatsoever on the road that are enforced.

“This is a recipe for disaster.”

Despite these concerns, planning officers said any harm to the green belt and any other concerns were outweighed by the need for extra school places.

Councillors agreed with this assessment and approved both plans at a meeting on Thursday, July 9.

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