Plans for a new build primary school on Wearside have been given the green light by city councillors.

Sunderland City Council’s Planning and Highways Committee, at a meeting this week, approved an application for a new home for Thorney Close Primary School.

The new school complex is planned on the former Sunningdale Primary School site in the Springwell area of Sunderland following demolition plans for the site being approved last year.

A planning and design and access statement submitted to council officials confirmed the site is earmarked to provide a “replacement school” for Thorney Close Primary School, which needs space for more pupils.

It was noted that Thorney Close Primary School would “remain operational” during the construction period and would relocate once the new school is built.

A design and access statement for the new school added the design would retain the “existing site access, car parking facilities and partial external play areas”.

New facilities would include a “new school building, new football pitch and associated new drainage and landscaping works”, including wetlands and a sustainable drainage area.

According to planning documents submitted last year, the new school site would have a “capacity of 315 places plus nursery provision”, with “an additional 39 nursery places and 12 places for two- to three-year-old provision”.

The applicant is listed as Together for Children, which provides services on behalf of Sunderland City Council, with the council also listed as an ‘agent’ for the school scheme.

During a council consultation exercise on the plans, two objections were received from neighbours, with concerns raised around additional footfall and cars, disruption during construction works and littering.

Sunderland City Council planning officers, in a report prepared ahead of a Planning and Highways Committee meeting, recommended the school scheme for approval.

The council committee report noted the project would “utilise a former school site” and “deliver a good standard of development” in an “accessible and sustainable location”, as well as having an “acceptable impact on the amenity of the locality”.

It was also noted that Thorney Close Primary is “an older school and, whilst well maintained, is lacking in the specialist teaching provision which the newer primary schools can offer”.

After being put to the vote at a meeting of the council’s Planning and Highways Committee on Monday (June 10) the plans won unanimous support.

The new school will be developed with improved facilities ranging from specialist teaching rooms and rooms for teaching smaller groups, to rooms catering for special educational needs and hearing impairment needs and “appropriate staff facilities to broaden the existing curriculum”.

In terms of on-site parking, a new centrally located car park would provide 36 regular spaces for teaching staff and visitors, and four accessible bays for staff and visitors, along with 80 bike racks across the site to “promote more sustainable methods of transport”.

It was also noted that the “rebuilding of the school on a more compact footprint has created the opportunity for the school to better utilise the open space, with the associated playing fields now having the capability to accommodate formal sport for the first time”.

During discussion of the plans this week, it was questioned why an alternative access to the school had not been proposed.

Council planning officers confirmed that facilitating another access could lead to a number of trees being removed, and that there was already an “existing access into the school which works”.

Several members of the Planning and Highways Committee welcomed the planning application for the new replacement school.

Councillor Melanie Thornton, chair of the Planning and Highways Committee, said she was “heartened” to see a ‘parent drop-off facility’ incorporated into the design and that “all new schools should have that”.

Cllr Thornton continued: “I like applications like this coming forward, a new school and investing in our children and young people I think should be welcomed”.

Councillor Michael Dixon added: “I think it’s a great scheme and it’s lovely to see a brand new school in the city”.

Project bosses have previously said the plans would help tackle parking issues with Thorney Close Primary School’s existing site, as well as “enabling the new school to be built within the catchment area of the existing school”.

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It was also noted that the new build school had been “future-proofed” to enable it to grow to a two-form entry “if required”.

Under planning conditions, the new school project must be brought forward within three years.

For more information on the planning application, visit Sunderland City Council’s planning portal website and search reference: 23/02498/LP3.