Council opposes Brethren plans

Southern perspective of the school
Southern perspective of the school

ANSTON Parish Council voted to oppose plans for an independent school and gospel hall to be built on greenbelt land at a meeting on Wednesday.

The meeting was called after new plans were submitted to Rotherham Council by Elsworth Acres on behalf of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church.

The Brethren want to build an independent school, gospel hall and convention centre on the site between Common Road and Todwick Road in North Anston.

The plans would see a single storey school building, gospel hall and convention centre, with car parking, coach parking and informal play areas on the 7.5 acre site.

A previous application submitted for the site was withdrawn at the start of the year after consultation with planning officers.

After a heated debate that lasted for over an hour, councillors eventually voted to oppose the plans by four votes to two, with seven councillors abstaining.

Coun Clive Jepson said he thought the new plans were no different to the previous ones, with buildings simply being ‘moved around’ the site.

“If it goes through what is to stop the land owner on the other side selling his land? It would be the thin end of the wedge for Anston,” he said.

“There would be horrendous traffic problems if this goes through. It is a totally inappropriate place for a school.”

Coun Stuart Thornton was also opposed to the plans, arguing they were not in accordance with the borough’s Unitary Development Plan.

He continued: “Under current regulations if you wish to build in the greenbelt you must prove very special circumstances. I can’t find anything that proves that in these plans.”

But Coun Ian St. John supported the plans saying the Brethren’s current site at Hellaby was ‘unsatisfactory’.

“This site is the best site out of about 70 that they have looked at. It is on greenbelt land but it not an area of outstanding beauty,” he added.

Coun Jo Burton agreed saying that on balance she was ‘cautiously supportive’ of the plans.

She added: “It does seem the buildings are of a good design and will blend into the landscape.”

Following the vote to oppose the plans, the parish council will now submit its formal objection to the plans to the Planning Board of Rotherham Council.

The board is expected discuss the plans in the new Year.