Free school gets the green light for rooftop extension

Bedford Free School headteacher Mark Lehain.
Bedford Free School headteacher Mark Lehain.

A headteacher has expressed his relief after plans for a school extension were approved second time around by planning chiefs.

The £1million project at Bedford Free School was initially deferred when it came before the borough council’s planning commitee.

But last night, after councillors agreed they did not have planning reasons to refuse the application for an extension, it was passed.

Work to create the rooftop sports hall and activity studio will start next month and should be completed by the summer.

Headteacher Mark Lehain said: “There was a definate sense that it was approved begrudgingly.

“I was just a bit saddened by some of the comments made about the school itself rather than the planning application in front of them.”

Last month the planning committee told the school to consider other options for the siting of the extension, which will allow sports activities and theatre events to be held there.

Mr Lehain said: “They asked us to put it at the back of the building which is already five storeys high.”

It’s not the first time the school has struggled with Bedford Borough Council’s planning committee.

Back in 2012, there was a battle to secure planning permission for the former office site to be converted into a school. It was given the green light on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate.

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