Helena Romanes homes plan in Great Dunmow thrown out

A plan of the Helena Romanes School, Dunmow site featuring 200 homes

Helena Romanes School wanted to build 200 homes on its existing site when it moves into an all-through unit - Credit: DAP Architecture Ltd

Plans to demolish a school in Great Dunmow and replace it with 200 new homes have been thrown out by councillors.

Helena Romanes School, the applicant, wanted to develop the land when it moves to an all-through school on a new site which it says is a "once in a lifetime opportunity".

But Uttlesford District Council's Planning Committee objected to draft plans due to a lack of any affordable housing in the plan, and the impact on nearby heritage buildings.

The new school was given the go-ahead by Essex County Council at a committee meeting in March 2020.

At a planning committee meeting on September 29, the CEO of the Saffron Academy Trust, which runs Helena Romanes, said there were two years left before the number of people coming to the school would exceed the space it has for them.

She said: "We do very much feel that the school building, as it stands at the moment, is not something that the young people of Dunmow deserve.

"They need something better for them."

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She added: "My concern about the refusal of this project is that it is a signal to that community that nobody cares about them."

Councillor Geoff Bagnall (Residents for Uttlesford) objected to the remarks.

He said: "I think you have to be careful because as a district, it's important that we secure 40 percent affordable housing, otherwise we're not doing very well by the people who need affordable housing."

Cllr Richard Pavitt (Uttlesford Independents) said: "I notice in the Town Council submission that they say the new school that this is going towards financing will not actually be adequate for future growth.

"We're being asked to accept less than 40 per cent affordability because it will enable greater contribution to the new school, which is not going to be fit for purpose."

The application sought permission for up to 200 homes, the demolition of the existing school buildings and the creation of public open space.

No affordable housing was proposed and the site neighbours eight Grade II-listed buildings. Council officers said the proposal amounted to amount to "harmful urbanisation".