Alok Sharma, the Member of Parliament for Reading West, has applauded the decision by a High Court judge to throw out developer Taylor Wimpey’s appeal against the Planning Inspectorate’s recommendation that the former Elvian School/Presentation College site on the Bath Road should be home to a school, as well as houses.
The decision means that the site remains open for possible use by the West Reading Education Network (WREN), who are seeking to open a new secondary school in September 2015. Alok, who has been supporting the WREN group since the start of their application to open a new Free School in west Reading, will now continue to work with the parent-led group to help secure the site for use by The Wren School.
In his final decision, the judge, Mr Justice Lewis said: ‘The inspector considered, for rational reasons, that it would be inappropriate at the present time to allow residential development on the whole site’ and that ‘the appeal would have been dismissed on the sole ground that it was of poor quality design which did not constitute sustainable development and would detract from the character and appearance of the area’.
Alok Sharma said: “This common sense decision has brought us a step closer to getting the Wren School on the right site and with WREN continuing good dialogue with the Department of Education. I look forward to working further with the team to deliver a first-rate Wren School for our local community.”
Mischa Tytel, WREN Director, said: “Presentation College has been home to a school almost continually since 1931 and it’s the perfect and only site for The Wren School. Taylor Wimpey have a very different agenda to ours as they want to make money, while we want to give our community the secondary school it desperately needs. Taylor Wimpey have considerably delayed our efforts to build a school so we’re extremely gratified that the Judge at the Appeal agreed with the Planning Inspector’s decision that the land should be home to a school as well as houses. It’s been a long, hard slog but the right decision was reached and we look forward to the next step towards getting our school built.”