A row between two Bradford Council departments threatens to scupper plans for a £15 million academy.
The Council’s education department has submitted an application for a new 1,050 pupil school on land at Fenby Avenue, East Bowling, but its Highways Department said it had not listened to its advice and the plans are unsuitable.
The leader of the opposition on the Council said it would be a “huge waste of taxpayers’ money” if the plans were refused because the two departments had not communicated properly.
A report by the highways department into the application points out that one part of the application says there will be 88 parking spaces on site, another part says that figure will be 70 and another says 93, while the estimates for the number of staff at the proposed school varies by 40 per cent through the application’s documents.
The academy will eventually be run by Bradford Diocese, but the application was submitted by Bradford Council, with Kath Tunstall, strategic director of children’s services, listed as the applicant.
It is hoped the school will open by September 2015, and the planning application was drawn up before the diocese had been chosen as the preferred partner to run it. The Government will fund £12.5 million for the project, which is expected to cost around £15 million.
Planned for land next to Lower Fields Primary School, neighbours have already raised concerns that the new school could lead to surrounding roads becoming gridlocked. And the response from the Council’s own highways agency has done little to quell their concerns.
Although part of the application says the school would employ 100 staff, an included transport assessment puts that figure at 140.
The comment from the highways office, which is consulted on all large-scale applications, says: “The Council should be able to accurately estimate the likely total number of employees including teachers and support staff so that an appropriate level of parking can be provided.”
The application says that one way of avoiding traffic jams at school pick-up time would be to stagger the start and end of the school day so it did not clash with neighbouring Lower Fields Primary School.
But the response says: “I have not come across any documentation that would suggest that this is to be the case.”
The officer concludes by saying: “I would not be able to support the proposal as submitted in its current form due to the highway concerns it would raise if approved.”
Discussing “mitigation measures” proposed in the application to deal with the increase in pedestrian and road traffic, the highways department says: “The measures are not totally in accordance with the highways advice given in pre-application advice.”
Objectors say the school could cause traffic problems.
Sharon Rastrick, of Rayleigh Street, said: “Sticker Lane just wouldn’t be able to handle the volume of traffic. And I’m sure there will be lots of staff parking on the road.”
Ian Morton, who Lives on Fenby Avenue, wrote to the Council to object, saying: “Fenby Avenue will become an overflow car park for the school.
“It is already a nightmare outside the entrance to Lowerfields Primary School when the children are entering and leaving with all the traffic outside the entrance. The traffic chaos will probably now increase by at least two thirds.”
Coun Glen Miller, leader of the Conservative group on the Council, said: “It looks like different departments of the Council need to work together more.
"An awful lot of time and effort must have gone into this application, and it might all be wasted because the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. You’d think they would have dotted the ‘i’s and crossed the ‘t’s before they did this, but it looks like they dotted the ‘t’s and crossed the ‘i’s.”
Julian Jackson, Bradford Council's assistant director for planning, transportation and highways said: “A number of issues have been raised by the highways team and the consultant who is working on behalf of the Council has been asked to look in to addressing these.”
The Rev David Lee, from Bradford Diocese, said he hoped the issues were ones the Council would be able to deal with.