Row over school expansion plans

Sandy Franzen, director of Lowton Youth Group, claims a temporary classroom being erected at Lowton Junior and Infants School, Newton Road, Lowton, is being done without planning permission
Sandy Franzen, director of Lowton Youth Group, claims a temporary classroom being erected at Lowton Junior and Infants School, Newton Road, Lowton, is being done without planning permission

COUNCIL bosses have been accused of fast-tracking work to expand a primary school after complaints from parents over a shortage of places.

Sandy Franzen, director of Lowton Youth and Community Centre, says preparation work has started for a new classroom at Lowton Junior and Infant School even though planning permission has not yet been granted.

The school, in Newton Road, Lowton, is having to increase its intake after record shortages of primary places in Lowton and Golborne.

But Mr Franzen, a former Wigan councillor, says despite accepting the need to tackle the shortage of places, the building work should follow planning procedures.

He said: “I am concerned that there has been no prior notice of works given to us as neighbours to the school. There have not been any planning notices posted locally nor in the local press. Why does the council not appear to have followed the appropriate planning requirements?”

Mr Franzen also raised concerns over damage to concrete flags and grassed area in front of Lowton Youth and Community Centre damaged, which he claims was caused by the construction work.

In an emailed response to Mr Franzen, Wigan Council’s Interim Director Skills, Education and Community Support Stuart Smith said the authority was having to move quickly to meet an “urgent need” for new places at the school.

He said: “The work to which you refer is to facilitate delivery of modular accommodation for 15 places needed from September 2011. There are also plans to create additional play area on the field as part of the work.

“The pace at which officers have had to work to make these arrangements has been considerable, and I apologise for the inconvenience and disruption. We would normally have consulted more widely but on this occasion time would not permit. I will ensure that the contractor carries out reinstatement works.”