PROPOSALS to build a new “free” school in the region have been rejected by planners.

An application to build a new school together with 350 new homes at Ingleby Barwick, near Stockton, were rejected by ten votes to one at Stockton Borough Council’s planning committee earlier today, Tuesday, February 5.

It is expected the developers will appeal the decision.

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The plan was to build a 750-place school called Ingleby Manor Free School along with the homes. However Stockton’s planning officers recommended refusal arguing the buildings on land near Low Maltby Farm, Low Lane would have been an “unjustified incursion” into the Bassleton Beck valley green wedge land.

The council received 71 objections from people worried about loss of open space and traffic problems. It was also argued many of the new places would be used up by families of people moving into the new homes. The plan received 61 letters of support.

Conservative Stockton South MP James Wharton has campaigned for a new free school for Ingleby Barwick along with a number of parents in the community. Free schools are state schools out of local authority control.

Mr Wharton said: “This is incredibly disappointing. Stockton Council has turned down a multi million pound new secondary school and improvements in infrastructure. I have campaigned for years to get a new school for Ingleby Barwick and to have it turned away when we are so close is a bitter pill to swallow.

"This will not be the end of the road for the campaign to get our new school, given the weakness of Stockton’s case I expect the applicants to appeal and I would be surprised if they were not successful.”

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