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MP attacks delay on school build

PUBLISHED: 18:44 05 March 2009 | UPDATED: 13:14 03 July 2010

Official procedure and bureaucracy are triumphing over common sense in the effort to resolve a planning saga at Cobholm Primary School, it was claimed this week.

Official procedure and bureaucracy are triumphing over common sense in the effort to resolve a planning saga at Cobholm Primary School, it was claimed this week.

Great Yarmouth MP Tony Wright said he was tearing his hair out with frustration as the local government machine chugged towards a solution over the flood risk objections that are delaying a £2.3m building project at the school.

He said much of the saga was clogged by jargon and procedure as the issue was tossed from department to department and simply taking much too long.

However while flood risk objections continue to cast a shadow over the future of the school he remained hopeful the scheme to add around 100 pupils as it grows to become an all through primary could go ahead.

The complication has triggered an outcry locally with parents worried about what best to do for their children if the school is forced to revert to infant status.

Mr Wright said: “It is all bureaucratic nonsense. I am sure that somewhere somebody could take this on board and get it sorted. It is not the first time they have had to do this - after all Tesco is on the same level as the school. I would have thought the budget should not be too much more and if the architects have not taken account of the fact it must be solidly built to withstand a flood then questions have to be asked. I am hopeful that we are going to get there but it is so frustrating.

“We are months down the line of having this level of uncertainty now. I am keeping a regular watching brief.”

This week an Environment Agency spokesman said officials were waiting for planners to re-submit a flood risk assessment which she hoped would help answer some of its concerns over evacuation.

She said: “The only thing that stands in its way is the lack of a proper flood risk assessment and we cannot allow buildings like that to go ahead without it.

“The building needs to be designed so it is dry internally at all times and can cope with 2m of flood water. We have had a chance to speak to the MP and to make the public and parents aware that we are objecting for a reason.

“We are waiting for the flood risk assessment to come back, other than that we support the development of the school. We are working with the MP and with the school. The problems are certainly not insurmountable.”

The spokesman added that by doubling the number of children on the site a more robust flood risk assessment was needed in terms of evacuation and response to flooding. She added a high level refuge would be required probably at some additional cost. She said all the agencies were working together, adding: “It's not a fractious relationship.”

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council added: “The latest position is that the flood response plan has been completed and has just been submitted to our planning department. They will now be discussing with the Environment Agency to see if the Agency is willing to withdraw its objections. The planning application can then be considered for approval.”

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