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Bilingual school's Hove plans in jeopardy over fears for miniature railway
12:00pm Saturday 7th September 2013 in News
Plans for a new school on the edge of a popular park could be rejected over claims it would force a miniature railway to close.
For more than 50 years a team of volunteers have kept the 2,000ft miniature railway in Hove Park running.
But members of the Brighton and Hove Society of Miniature Locomotive Engineers claim Brighton Bilingual School’s plans to create a three-storey building near the site will cause access problems.
The free school claims its multimillion-pound plans for up to 630 pupils on Hove Park Depot in The Droveway, Hove, would be a “significant investment in education provision in Brighton and Hove”.
But Mike Holland, who is renovating the British Engineerium, which neighbours the site, described the school plans as a “crackpot idea”.
After dozens of complaints, experts at Brighton and Hove City Council have now recommended the plans be turned down by councillors.
If the committee agrees at a meeting on September 18, it would leave the school, which is currently based in Brighton Aldridge Community Academy in Moulsecoomb, behind schedule to move to new premises by next year.
A letter to the council on behalf of the Brighton and Hove Society of Miniature Locomotive Engineers said it was granted leasehold possession of the entrance area into the park from the depot’s back door in 1973.
It claimed, if approved, the school would mean it could not access the site every day.
Mr Holland added he hoped to use the land to house the Surrey-based Brooking Architectural Museum Trust, a collection of architectural salvage, as part of an indoor Victorian street scene.
Valerie Paynter, of conservation group Save Hove, said: “The miniature railway and the Engineerium have so much in common it is only right the whole area they currently occupy should be seen as complementary and the depot brought into that configuration to form a harmonious major museum/railway attraction asset for the city.”
Carolina Gopal, the school’s headteacher, said: “We know that people living near the site are worried about extra traffic and pressure on parking and we have heard their scepticism about travel plans.
“But we have shown that our parents and staff we can work with these sorts of issues at our present site and we will deal with them properly if the plans for the site in Hove are approved.
“We are keen to work with the council and the people living in the surrounding area so that we become good neighbours.”
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