Express & Star

Plan to build new homes on site of former Rugeley school gets green light

Detailed plans for new homes on the site of a former Rugeley school have been given the green light after residents’ concerns about the fate of a beloved oak tree were allayed.


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Members of Cannock Chase Council’s planning committee unanimously approved the development of 58 homes on the land at Church Street at their meeting last Wednesday.

Aelfgar School closed in 2011 and has since been demolished. Cannock Chase Council bought the site from Staffordshire County Council in September 2021 and it is now earmarked for housing, along with land from former squash courts and Taylors Lane Car Park.

A mix of two-, three- and four-bedroom homes is proposed. Half will be available for sale, with the remaining 19 retained by the council as housing stock.

Concerns were raised by nearby residents about the loss of trees on the site, however. One said: “I realise people need somewhere to live and building houses are necessary, but not at the expense of trees that have been there for years.

“One is an oak tree that has been there for years. There is an abundance of wildlife making use of the trees and there are bats in the area.”

Committee members were told on Wednesday that 19 protected trees would be retained on the site, however, including the oak. The trees set to be removed were considered “poor quality” with a life expectancy of less than 10 years.

Councillor Sue Thornley said: “I think it is a fantastic development and I can’t wait for it to start. To get 29 families off our (housing) waiting list is phenomenal.”

Fellow committee member and Rugeley councillor Mike Sutherland said Church Street was “an extremely busy side road” and an ongoing issue for residents. But he added: “Having said that, this is a brilliant use of a piece of land that brings much-needed social housing into the area.

“Towns need people to live in them and this is an excellent example of utilising a site in the heart of a town. I’m 100 per cent behind it.”