AN EXTRA 300 children will study at a Shinfield school after planning chiefs gave the go-ahead to controversial expansion proposals.

Bosses at Crosfields School, a co-educational private school on Shinfield Road, will build a “modern” building for GCSE students aged 14-16, meaning an additional 30 teachers could join the extra students by 2024.

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This comes despite residents’ and Reading Borough Council’s concerns about “extremely difficult” traffic safety issues the extra students would bring.

Speaking at Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) planning meeting, Crosfields School headmaster Craig Watson said he knew “some of our neighbours have concerns about traffic on Shinfield Road.”

Reading Chronicle:

A plan for how the school would reduce car journeys was deemed not acceptable by WBC, but Mr Watson said a lot of the new children would be older, “independent” students who would travel by bike, bus or foot.

He told the council’s planning committee a quarter of the children at the school would travel to school with siblings, meaning not as many cars would be needed.

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The headmaster added: “When I joined Crosfields as headmaster five years ago I did not anticipate the school going to 16.

“One year into the post I was convinved [this] was need not only to grow the school but actually to give it a healthy future.”

“The school as a business needs this to continue.”

Reading Chronicle:

Despite neighbours’ concerns, councillors approved the plans at a planning committee meeting, but school bosses must have their final travel plan signed off by the committee’s chairman as work gets underway.

Other concerns discussed at the meeting including knocking down the ‘White Building’, a heritage asset said to be from the 18th century, something WBC experts said would be “regrettable” in a prior report.

Headmaster Craig Watson said a decision to demolish the building was “not taken lightly” but revamping the structure, which he said had a top floor which was ‘almost like it was haunted’, would result in “astonishing costs”.

Reading Chronicle:

Councillor Stephen Conway added: “It is terribly sad to see that building go.

“I wish there was some way for it to be retained.”

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The development will be split into two phases, with the initial stage focusing on building a new reception area and cafe and performance space.

Classrooms and offices would take up the top two floors of the three-storey space.

Phase two would involve building teaching spaces on the space vacated by the White building.

Councillors said yes to the plans at a meeting of the planning committee on Wednesday, February 12.