Devon council will not challenge Route 39 Academy plan

Joss Glossop and Route 39 pupils
Image caption The Route 39 Academy is currently operating from an old school in Clovelly

A local council has voted not to pursue a legal challenge against a government decision to allow a free school to develop a permanent site.

In February the secretary of state for communities and local government gave the go-ahead for Route 39 Academy to set up at Steart Farm, Bideford.

The decision overruled a previous rejection by Torridge District Council, and the advice of a planning inspector.

Acting principal Jordan Kelly said the school had a "huge amount of support".

"I hear a lot of people saying to me 'I wish this school was open when my kids went to school'", Mr Kelly said.

More than 100 parents and pupils from the academy attended the meeting on Friday, where councillors decided not to launch a judicial review into the government's decision.

Deputy leader of Torridge District Council James Morrish said the council's solicitor estimated that a judicial review would have cost the council between £30,000 and £50,000.

"And that's a huge amount of money for a very small authority like Torridge", he said.

Route 39 Academy, which was opened by a group of local parents in September 2013, is temporarily based in an old school in Clovelly, and has plans to expand to accommodate 700 pupils.

The proposed site is located within the North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and currently has a farmstead and camping and caravan park.

Under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, applicants can appeal against local planning rejections to the secretary of state, who may intervene in cases of more than local significance.

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