Lancing school’s new sports hall given the thumbs up

Adur’s planning committee welcomed ‘probably the youngest speaker it has ever had’ as it approved plans for a new school sports hall last night.

Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 12:49 pm
Seaside Primary School in Lancing

Seaside Primary School’s head boy, ‘Jay’, who is 11, received a round of applause from the planning committee as he outlined the case for a new sports hall.

The Lancing school increased in size from 420 to 630 pupils in 2014 and headteacher Lee Murley said it ‘simply does not have enough space’ to provide two hours of PE every week for its 21 classes.

The new sports hall will provide space for classes when the weather is poor as well as storage for equipment and changing rooms.

The proposed new sports hall

Speaking to the planning committee, Jay said: “Childhood obesity in the UK is at an all time high and it looks like it will continue to rise as children do less exercise and spend more time on devices.

“When the weather is fine, we get two hours [of PE] as planned. If the weather is rubbish, we don’t.

“As a school we have raised money and saved for years to be able to afford the hall. I raised over £500 myself in a sponsored silence a few years ago.

“Overall, the school has raised £1 million to make this happen – I think this is pretty amazing.

“Our school motto is ‘everybody matters, everybody succeeds’. This is not quite true in PE because it depends how often your lessons are cancelled due to bad weather.

“Seaside is an awesome school but this hall really would be amazing and mean that all children could be healthy and fit in the future.”

Councillors were unsure on the plans at first. This is because they received  19 objections, namely from residents of nearby Seaside Close, Seaside Road and Seaside Avenue, and one from Lancing Parish Council.

Residents were mainly concerned with the proximity and height of the building – which comes in at around seven metres – and they say it would overlook their bungalows.

West Sussex county councillor for Lancing, Andy McGregor (Con) asked the planning committee to defer the application.

He explained: “This is to give the applicant opportunity to demonstrate that they can be a good neighbour by considering the very reasonable modifications suggested by those who live nearby.

Residents were also concerned that the building’s use could lead to increased traffic and noise in the evening when after school clubs take place.

Former GP Dr David Peskett, who lives at Seaside Avenue, said: “Nobody has any objection to improving exercise facilities for children, and I say that from a medical point of view and a personal one as well.

“But the current proposal is just too big a building, in the wrong place.

“All of the properties locally, bar one which is some distance away, are bungalows.”

Dr Peskett said that traffic was ‘gridlocked’ at the beginning and end of the school day with cars ‘parked completely over the roads and across driveways to the extent that we cannot get emergency vehicles through’.

Mr Murley said the school’s relationship with the neighbours ‘isn’t great’ due to confrontations over parking and traffic. 

“I don’t like to use it, but the word nimbyism comes to mind,”  Mr Murley added.

Steve Neocleous (Con, Churchill) expressed concern that plans would affect emergency vehicle access. 

But Mr Murley ensured the neighbours that the hall would not generate any extra traffic as it will be used by pupils who are already on site.

He added that inspector Ofsted would be ‘all over him’ if it thought an emergency vehicle couldn’t access the school.

An alternative location for the hall, on a different part of the site, was considered by Seaside but was ultimately ruled out due to uneven ground and being too far away from junior classes.

This was the residents’ preferred location for the new hall but the headteacher said there was ‘not a chance’ of gathering the £150,000 extra needed to build in this location.

Tania Edwards (Con, Southlands) asked: “Could you explain why the sports hall is as high as it is?

“I know it has been reduced – It’s a case of does it have to be 7.7 metres high?”

Mr Murley said the building’s sustainable features led to its height but councillors expressed frustration that the architect was not present to answer their questions.

The headteacher said the building would not be hired out for events so would not pose a noise problem.

Both of Mr Murley’s promises will be enforced by conditions attached to the planning approval, which also means that the hall will not open during the school holidays.

More information can be found at the Adur planning portal using reference: AWDM/1732/21.