For anyone interested in Free Schools:http://www.getbucks.co.uk/news/local-ne ... ry-8761636
The Secretary of State has admitted he “erred” in his decision to allow a free school to stay in a Bucks village.
Mr Pickles in his letter to Stoke Poges Parish Council, who challenged the decision, said he “misinterpreted and misunderstood” evidence and the planning inspector’s findings relating to noise levels for 840 pupils at the Khalsa School.
He conceded he had made an error in overruling the inspector’s report on the school at Hollybush Hill site in Stoke Poges.
The move to reverse his decision means the matter will no longer go to High Court, as it was due to on March 11 and 12.
Vice chairman of the parish council Saera Carter said: “This decision vindicates the village of Stoke Poges and its residents decision to challenge on legitimate grounds of placing a school in the wrong place with no benefit to its residents only harm.
“It’s a victory for the campaigners and all the work they have done.
“We couldn’t let people know before as the offer had to be accepted by everyone, now that it has we are happy to share the news.”
Campaigners have already welcomed the news following their two year battle to have the school closed. They have cited noise, traffic and contamination as issues.
The Education Funding Agency originally had their planning permission rejected by South Bucks District Council, but appealed the decision.
Following this there was a two-day planning inquiry held at the offices in Denham last September, where the inspector ruled that there were several issues.
However, her decision was over turned by Mr Pickles.
Stoke Poges Parish Council decided to challenge this in the High Court.
On Thursday, February 26, the council was told Mr Pickles admitted he had ‘made an ill-informed decision’ which was flawed.
Mr Pickles has now reversed his decision saying he misunderstood the inspector’s findings on the noise that 840 children would make.
Mrs Carter added the council would be meeting with its barrister to decide what the next step is.
The offer also means the court costs in relation to the High Court will be covered though costs prior to this will not be.
The news follows a ruling by the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) which found the school had asked parents “unreasonable, unclear, not objective and not fair” questions in its admission policy.
Since the ruling the school has said it has revised its policy.
SECRETARY OF STATE’S DECISION
The decision of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, under reference APP/NO410/A/14/2215541 dated 17 September 2014 to allow an appeal made under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (“the Act”) and grant prior approval for permitted development for a proposed change of use of office space to a state-funded school, be quashed under section 288(5)(b) of the Act.
The Secretary of State concedes that he erred, at paragraph 10 of his decision letter, in that he misinterpreted and misunderstood certain of the objective evidence and his Inspector’s findings as regards predicted noise levels for 840 pupils, and consequently in his approach to determining the appeal under section 78 of the Act.
The Secretary of State therefore considers that it is appropriate for the Court to make an Order quashing the decision and remitting the decision for redetermination.