PLANS to expand a Penzance primary school have been dealt a blow by town councillors.
St Mary's Church of England School is the only school in Penzance still housed in its original Victorian building and head teacher Hilary Tyreman says the time is long overdue for the school to have some more space – particularly outside.
A planning application has been submitted which would enable St Mary's to build a new classroom extension in the current playground and use part of the adjoining Alexandra play park for outside space during term-time.
Following talks with Cornwall Council, the Diocese of Truro and Colonel Edward Bolitho, who owns the freehold of the play park, the school governors hoped to take on the end section of the park – which currently houses the zipwire equipment – as a multi-use play space which would be available to the wider community outside school hours.
It was hoped that the zipwire could be relocated elsewhere in the park.
But at their recent planning meeting, Penzance councillors voted by eight votes to two to object to the encroachment on to the play area in Alexandra Park, although they offered no objection for the classroom extension.
Councillor Nigel Pengelly, who proposed the recommendation that Cornwall Council refuse the application, said: "The play park in Alexandra Gardens is well used and popular with families in Penzance.
"This proposal will reduce the park by half and play equipment like the boat and zipwire will be lost forever.
"This is another example of a public play area being lost to development. I understand that schools in Penzance will need to expand, but St Mary's C of E School – due to its location – will not be one of them. I have young children that use this park and I will fight to keep it open."
Hilary Tyreman preferred not to comment about the councillors' objections. She said: "The governors recognise that raising objections is a legitimate part of the planning process. We continue to await the outcome of the planning committee next month."
If approved, the new facility could be ready for the start of the autumn term.