Whitburn sixth-form plans get the go-ahead

ACE MOVE? ... Coun Jeff Milburn at Whitburn C of E Academy.
ACE MOVE? ... Coun Jeff Milburn at Whitburn C of E Academy.

IT’S game, set and match at a South Tyneside school now the go-ahead has been given for tennis courts to be replaced by a £1.9m sixth-form block.

Whitburn C of E Academy, in Rackley Way, was awarded the cash by the Education Funding Agency earlier this year to create the two-storey extension.

And yesterday, members of South Tyneside Council’s planning committee unanimously voted to give the go-ahead for the complex.

It is hoped the sixth-form block, expected to cater for up to 280 pupils, will be up and running by September next year.

That approval was granted despite opposition from some residents in nearby Ash Grove, Markham Avenue, Nicholas Avenue and Oak Avenue.

They fear the development has the potential to create “traffic chaos and gridlock” at school drop-off and pick-up points.

But Coun Jeff Milburn, a ward representative for Cleadon and East Boldon, described it as a “golden opportunity”.

He said: “Whitburn School is a fantastic school.

“Three of my children have been there, and if the opportunity of a sixth form had been there, they would have stayed on.

“I think it is very important for children to be settled in their education. This will give pupils the continuity they need.

“We have a golden opportunity here to benefit the people of South Tyneside.”

Coun Sylvia Spraggon, a ward councillor for Whitburn and Marsden, expressed concern over the impact the addition of almost 300 pupils will have on roads and homes around the school.

She said: “The roads in Whitburn are so narrow, and when there are events such as open days at the school, many people can’t get out of their gates because the cars park so close to them.”

Fellow Whitburn and Marsden councillor Peter Boyack said there have been problems with parking in Nicholas Avenue for “years and years”, and he suggested a student parking area might help alleviate the problem.

He added: “We’re not against this sixth-form. It’s very important for children’s education, but these problems need to be addressed.”

Members were told that the 350 cycle spaces at the school are under-used and could potentially be used for parking.

The school itself also intends to stagger pupil leaving times in a bid to address parking concerns.

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