Primary school in Chelmsford calls halt to almost 25-year-old reliance on ‘temporary’ classroom

A Chelmsford primary school relying on its headteacher’s office for lessons is set to get a permanent building – almost a quarter of a century after first using a “temporary” classroom.

Essex County Council says the existing structure at Cold Norton Primary School – which has used a relocatable classroom for about 23 yars – is in poor condition and would require significant investment to prolong its usable life.

The new building will provide one general classroom, a small group room, a lobby, storage and toilets and will positioned on the footprint of the existing building which will be demolished.

However, the council said there is now no guarantee that further temporary planning permissions will be granted given it is “apparent the need is no longer temporary”.

The school has had a temporary classroom since at least 2001 when permission was granted for a “repositioning of temporary classroom”.

A replacement was installed in 2007. There was then permission in 2012 for the classroom to be allowed in 2017, another permission in 2017 for it to be extended to 2022 and another extension in 2022 to 2027.

However, since then the county council has determined the classroom “is in poor condition and would require significant investment to prolong its usable life”.

The school also has a deficiency in group space. At present unsuitable spaces, including the headteacher’s office, are having to be used for small group work or one-to-one support. The council says a small group room will help alleviate this issue.

The council has estimated work to start in May this year and to be completed in August.

The council says in a statement: “The school currently has one relocatable classroom which is used for teaching.

“This relocatable is in poor condition and would require significant investment to prolong its usable life.

“In addition, there is a risk that the temporary planning permissions that are extant on this accommodation could be refused by the local planning authority as it is apparent the need is no longer temporary, but a permanent need requiring a permanent built solution.

“The school also has a deficiency in group space.

“At present unsuitable spaces, including the headteacher’s office, are having to be used for small group work or one-to-one support. The provision of a small group room will help alleviate this issue.

“Should these places not be maintained locally, then there is a strong possibility that increased car journeys will need to be made outside the local area, in order for parents to secure a preferred primary school placement. However, by enhancing provision that sits directly within the area of demand it is not unreasonable to see this as the more sustainable solution, with children able to walk, cycle or scoot to their local school, reducing congestion and the subsequent impact that that has upon public health.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter