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Cobholm school scheme approved

PUBLISHED: 10:42 25 March 2009 | UPDATED: 13:27 03 July 2010

Approved: Plans for Cobholm school's building project.

Approved: Plans for Cobholm school's building project.

GREAT Yarmouth's Cobholm Primary School was last night celebrating news that its £2.3m building scheme has finally been given the go-ahead, ending years of uncertainty.

Delighted: Headteacher Julie Risby.

GREAT Yarmouth's Cobholm Primary School was last night celebrating news that its £2.3m building scheme has finally been given the go-ahead, ending years of uncertainty.

Frustration among parents about the endless delays boiled over earlier this year when it became apparent that the extension - completing the school's transition to primary status - would not be ready to accommodate the first Year Six intake in September.

But following pressure from the town's MP Tony Wright and a campaign led by parents, Norfolk County Council yesterday said that it had overcome the final stumbling block - a dispute with the Environment Agency over the submission of a satisfactory flood plan.

Officers have now approved the plans using delegated powers and discussions have begun with building firm RG Carter to start work during the summer holidays. The complete remodelling of the school will be finished in time for September 2010.

Mr Wright, who stepped up the pressure when it appeared the project might have to be scrapped with the school reverting to infant status, said: “I am delighted for the people of Cobholm that at long last they are going to get the school upgraded, something that should have happened years ago.

“They have finally overcome all the hurdles, which I could always see were not insurmountable hurdles. It was a question of if there's a will there's a way. There was a will and it just needed a bit of pushing.”

Mr Wright said he hoped the authority now got on with the job and kept to the timetable of starting in the summer holidays to minimise disruption during term time.

Headteacher Julie Risby said: “I am delighted the uncertainty is now over. It means the children will finally get the facilities they deserve.”

She said that the uncertainty had prompted parents to take their children out of the school, with numbers falling from 170 to an estimated 140 by the start of the next school year.

She said the start of building work would provide much-needed stability and, once the work was finished, parents would see the benefits of their children being able to stay in Cobholm from nursery through to their transfer to high school.

Lisa Christensen, director of children's services at Norfolk County Council, said: “I am delighted that we now have planning permission, and can work towards setting a firm start date in order to provide Cobholm, and its community, with a school fit for the 21st century.

“We have worked closely with the Environment Agency, to listen to concerns and resolve any outstanding issues, in order to ensure the safety of pupils and staff at the school. Our proposals indicate our long-term investment in Cobholm, and I hope this news reassures any parents who felt uncertain about the school's future.”

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