Approval for a new sports hall in Leighton Buzzard

Oakbank School's proposed new hall
Oakbank School's proposed new hall

A Leighton Buzzard school for children with special needs has gained planning permission to construct a multi-use sports hall.

Oak Bank School, which first opened back in 1976, has seen previous planning applications to erect such a building approved by Central Beds Council, but the projects have ultimately failed due to a lack of finance.

But now the school, which is presently expanding with the construction of four new classrooms, says it has the budget to build on its tennis courts area and saw its new application approved by councillors.

Members of the development management committee voted 12-0 (1 abstention) in favour of the scheme, although there were reservations expressed that the community wouldn’t be permitted to use the new facilities.

Cllr Tom Nicols said: “In Leighton Buzzard, we (the Rotary Club) are trying to get a disabled facility to going and this is the sort of facility that would be helpful. Now we cannot use this facility for any other than the school’s use.”

He said traffic concerns outside the school had been caused by CBC’s policy of using chartered taxis to get pupils to school, when the Oak Bank didn’t object to the use of public transport.

“A by-product of this is the school can’t be used by the public, which is really disappointing,” added Cllr Nicols.

“I am aware that other schools would give anything to have the funding that this school is fortunate enough to have, but they certainly wouldn’t want to take on the challenges that this school has – and it does have enormous challenges. It fulfills an incredibly important role.”

The new 373sq metre facility would have with space for two badminton courts, a gym and changing facilities.

The structure would have the potential to provide additional 150sq metres floorspace at a mezzanine level for an additional activity room, storage and a viewing gallery.