PLANS to build a new sports hall and three new classrooms at a Darlington school have been given the go-ahead.

The development will enable Skerne Park Academy to admit another 15 pupils each year, as well as providing sports hall facilities at its Coleridge Gardens site for the nearby community.

Members of Darlington Borough Council’s planning applications committee voted unanimously today (Wednesday, January 29) to grant planning permission for the development.

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Councillors had initially deferred their decision on the development after representatives from the applicant did not attend an earlier meeting, held on January 15.

Speaking at today’s (Wednesday, January 29) meeting, Judith Akrigg, who lives to the west of the proposed sports hall on Eden Crescent said the nine-metre-tall hall would completely block the sun from her and her neighbours’ properties.

She also said traffic generated by sports hall users outside school hours could cause parking problems in nearby streets.

One of the suggestions was to move the sports hall further north so it would not have such an impact on Eden Crescent, as the road travelled at an obtuse angle to the site, so houses would be further away from it.

However architect Carinna Gebhard said Sport England objected to the suggestion, as the sports hall encroached on the school’s playing field.

Ms Gebhard said: “In terms of where the sports hall is, Sport England obviously govern where we can put things.

“When it comes to playing pitches, they are very protective of them.”

Pat Howarth, chief executive of Hummersknott Academy Trust, which is responsible for the running of Skerne Park Academy, said the council had agreed to increase the number of school places in the borough, so the school needed to expand.

Councillor Dorothy Long said: “We should not forget that it does look great, the architecture is particularly good and the curved roof of the sports hall which lessens the effect.

“I sincerely hope that residents won’t find it as bad as they fear. It is a good scheme for the community so let’s not forget the positives because we have looked at all the negatives.”

Headteacher Kate Chisholm added: “I am delighted that our planning application has been granted. The future of Skerne Park Academy and the success of its children can now be enhanced further still.

“We can all agree that this can only be a positive step for Skerne Park Academy and its community.”