'Monumental' decision as Bullers Wood School for Boys is approved despite rejection fears
PUBLISHED: 13:06 05 October 2017 | UPDATED: 15:40 10 October 2017
Planning councillors had been expected to throw the proposal out for a second time
A proud parent has declared his son will be “first through the door” after plans for a new secondary school were approved this week.
Hopes of Bullers Wood School for Boys being built were slim going into Wednesday night’s Development Control Committee, after councillors had been told to reject the offer.
But vehement campaigning from thousands of parents and supporters saw plans for the 900-pupil all-boys school approved, despite fears over its effect on local transport, which had seen a previous application refused.
Proposals were approved at the committee by a vote of nine to seven.
Andrew Ruck was one of more than 2,000 campaigners who signed a petition backing the non-selective school, he said: “There’s never been such a roar of approval from inside the council chamber before.
“The whole chamber and an adjacent room were packed. We went in there with low hopes but now we can look forward to getting our children into a great local school.
“It’s a monumental decision, I’m absolutely elated, it’s the right decision for the whole of the borough.
“My son will be first through the door when the temporary site opens in September, he even said to me afterwards ‘Dad, I don’t have to worry about getting to school anymore’.”
For its first year, the school will operate from a temporary building on St Hugh’s Playing Fields, between Chislehurst and Bickley, as construction work goes on elsewhere on the field.
Around 30 per cent of consulted residents, mostly from Bickley, were against the proposal, raising concerns over the potential impact on traffic.
Councillor Eric Bosshard voted against the proposal, he said: “Junctions in the area are already at capacity, I don’t see how the school will alleviate the additional traffic of 900 pupils arriving every day.
“There are a number of residents who are extremely concerned, I’ve seen it before in my ward of Chislehurst, key roads become clogged up and you get rat runs.
“We do need new schools, but we need them in the right places.”
The school has assured it would promote students walking, cycling or using public transport to lessen the impact on surrounding roads.
Headteacher Anne Gouldthorpe said: “The need for the school was quite clearly evidenced by the number of parents that attended the meeting in support of the plans as well as the healthy number of applications we’ve received so far. Their belief and dedication is unstinting.
“I am very excited about welcoming and teaching our first cohort of 180 boys next September. They will be the true pioneers of Bullers Wood School for Boys.”