A sea of disappointed children were told on Wednesday morning that a new school had not been approved by the council the night before.
Itchingfield Primary School headteacher Simon Simmons said he had told his pupils the news that Horsham District Council had deferred an application for a new school and 69 homes for Barns Green. More than a hundred villagers, including many school children, packed the council chambers and vented their displeasure at the decision, with one saying: ‘If this is democracy, then it’s an outrage’, while one councillor muttered: ‘I think we just killed localism.’
Mr Simmons said: “Although disappointed I’m pleased that HDC were clear in their support for a new school and the impact that will have on the children of Barns Green and Itchingfield. I look forward to showing the councillors around our existing sites to see the excellent work we currently do and how we overcome the challenges of being a split-site school in the 21st century.”
The majority of councillors, while in favour of a new school, felt that they needed to negotiate at least some affordable homes provision before approving the 69 houses north of Two Mile Ash Road.
But despite the deferral to allow for negotiation with Berkeley Homes, the following day Claire Vickers (Con, Southwater) cabinet member for living and working communities assured Barns Green the school would be approved.
She said: “A simple deferral by a month of this application to see if we can get an affordable element and look and see if we have absolutely the best deal makes complete and utter sense to me in these circumstances. Deferral does not mean it will not happen. I am completely confident it will come back to committee and will be approved.”
Nigel Currie, an Itchingfield parish councillor, added: “This was a very sad day for Barns Green. It was hugely disappointing to have to sit and listen to a succession of dull and extremely uninspiring so-called politicians.
“The majority of them showed staggering inflexibility and cowered behind some policy which they obviously think has to be rigidly adhered to at all cost.”
Tricia Youtan (Con, Itchingfield, Slinfold and Warnham) added: “There could now be a risk of losing this entire proposal to the detriment of the village, both now and in the future. It could also signal the premature death of any new scheme to involve residents by asking what they would like under the auspices of Localism.”