ONE of Herefordshire’s most popular schools is set to grow after councillors gave the go-ahead to extension plans.

Herefordshire Council approved the plans last week which will see an increase from 570 to 630 pupils at Marlbrook Primary School in Hereford.

Council leaders agreed last May to invest £4.6m to expand what is an Ofsted rated outstanding school.

The plans include a two storey addition to the school which includes three new classrooms, more hall space, a new kitchen and storage.

An extra 40 car parking spaces will also be built, and the scheme will create an extra four full-time and six part-time members of staff roles.

Redhill councillor Paul Rone, speaking to the planning committee, said the expansion was important.

“Marlbrook School is known to have pressures for places because, not only does it serve Redhill and Newton Farm which are the areas of highest density in Herefordshire, but also because it is an Ofsted outstanding school,” he said.

“The proposals for three form entry have been on the design board and been mulled over for a number of years now.

“The opportunity for confirming our ethos of giving young people a great start in life is here and it is within your gift as the planning committee.”

Coun Rone also said the extra parking spaces would be much needed.

“The utopian idea that everyone will walk or ride their bikes to school is a pipe dream,” he said.

But some councillors such as Felicity Norman said the proposal was of poor design.

“It could be so much better. We seem to go for very limited and unimaginative designs,” she said.

Coun Anthony Powers raised concerns about the plans being approved during the pre-election period as it was linked to a cabinet decision.

Cabinet member Nigel Shaw, who is on the planning committee, left the room for the debate but fellow cabinet member Rone was allowed to speak as the local member at the discretion of chairman Phil Cutter.

The plans were passed with 11 votes for it, one against and an abstention.