Rejected 'free' school plan for Ingleby Barwick to be looked at again by the Government

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The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Stockton/Hartlepool)

A REJECTED plan to build a new ‘free’ school will be looked at again by the Government.

Stockton Borough Council's planning committee turned down a plan to build a 750 place school and 350 homes at Ingleby Barwick, south Stockton, because it was on green wedge land.

The developers have appealed and the Secretary of State has agreed to have a look.

Concerns have been raised that once some houses are built there, developers and landowners would then be able to apply to build many more.

Free schools are state schools out of local authority control. The Labour Party has no firm policy on the issue, but Alex Cunningham, Labour MP for Stockton North, said there is a case for them if there are not enough school places available.

However James Wharton, Conservative MP for Stockton South, said: “Stockton’s Labour Council has played politics with the fight to get a new school and continually refused to properly provide Ingleby Barwick with the school places it needs. "

Coun Bob Gibson, chairman of the planning committee, strongly rejected Mr Wharton’s claim that there were party political considerations saying Conservative members of the committee had not voted for the plan either.

Coun Bob Cook, current leader of the council, said: “If the Secretary of State or Government Planning Inspector overturns that decision, it will look to me as though a developer will have received a fast track approval to build 1,300 homes in a green wedge on the back of providing the funding for the Government’s free school."

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