Local Conservatives in South Gloucestershire have criticised Liberal Democrats for opposing a planning application necessary for vital funding for improvements for a brand-new project school building in Frampton Cotterell.

The ambitious £6.68million new home for Watermore School, which has been championed by South Gloucestershire Council’s Conservative Administration and local MP Luke Hall, and headed by parents, Governors and staff, has been in use since the beginning of the year, with children being able to make use of the modern facilities under one new-and-improved roof at Lower Stone Close.

Classrooms have reopened to children in select year groups in line with government guidelines on Covid-19.

However, work is continuing on other parts of the site. The work, including the school car park, improvements to the adjacent main highway and creation of a Multi-Use Games Area will all be completed, using funding sourced from the redevelopment of the school’s former infants and junior sites into new housing.

A planning application was approved by the Council’s Development Management Committee on Thursday, June 11 to allow five homes to be built on part of the former junior school site. But while this scheme was given the green light by the committee, it was opposed by two of Frampton Cotterell’s Lib Dem representatives, Councillors Claire Young and Tristan Clark.

Councillor, Erica Williams, Cabinet Member for Schools, Skills and Employment, said:

“This is another disappointing display from the Lib Dems who have repeatedly tried to obstruct progress in delivering this fantastic new school building for local children in Frampton Cotterell.

“Had we not been able to secure planning permission for this application, it would have meant work on the school would have to be halted until alternative funding sources could be found.

“The Council Administration’s number one priority is to improve school standards, and as our local children gradually return to school following the Covid-19 pandemic, we want to make sure they have excellent facilities with which to learn and achieve in while enjoying an all-round positive school experience.”

However, councillor Claire Young argues, that, the development already had permission to go ahead and only the design element, was yet to be agreed.

She said:

“The Liberal Democrats supported the building of a new home for Watermore Primary School.

This has now happened: the school relocated to its new building in January and we are delighted to see the progress being made on the final parts of the site, like the play area and multi-use games area.

“Part of the funding for the new school comes from selling a section of the Lower Stone Close site for housing. This development already has outline planning permission and will go ahead.

"What was being decided at the recent Development Management Committee was the details of the design.

"We, along with many local people and the Parish Council, were concerned that it was not in keeping with its surroundings or in line with the agreed Village Design Statement.

"We would have liked the applicant to come back with a more appropriate design.

“It was disappointing during the debate to hear Conservative Cllr Brian Hopkinson making negative comments about other properties in this area.”