APPROVAL has been given for a school to extend its premises despite objections from residents living nearby.

Carmel College wants to build a two storey extension for its music and drama departments as their current rooms are in poor condition, having been built in the 1950s and 60s.

The application also includes the addition of 23 new parking spaces, although the new building would be sited over ten existing spaces so the net increase would only be 13.

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Admission numbers at the 1,200-pupil school will not increase as a result of the extension, but a Darlington planning committee meeting heard this week that residents already have grave concerns over parking problems at the school.

Residents of both Clare Avenue and The Headlands, which border the school, said that Carmel College’s policy of not allowing vehicles into its grounds during school hours was causing traffic mayhem on the surrounding residential roads.

Clare Avenue resident Ray Abbott said: “There is a big problem with all day parking on Clare Avenue by teachers and sixth form students, and inconsiderate parking by parents picking up and dropping off at school time.”

He also expressed concerns that the extension would block the sunlight from Clare Avenue homes which already suffer a loss of light due to the large trees bordering that section of the school building.

Councillors said they sympathised with the residents’ traffic concerns but pointed out that the application was about an extension and had little to do with the congestion on residential roads.

Planning officer Roy Merrit said: “I don’t think this application or any conditions are going to solve the car parking problems of some residents.

“But if the school imposes a car park management plan, that is something we can work with the applicant on.”

He added: “My view is that it would not be unreasonable to impose a condition about traffic management on the site; clearly there are traffic issues.”

Permission for the extension, which is expected to be 20m long, 16m wide and 9.5m tall, was granted on the basis that the school works with residents and councillors to implement a strategy to alleviate its traffic problems.