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Newts scupper school building plans

PUBLISHED: 12:47 31 July 2008 | UPDATED: 07:33 01 August 2010

A Norfolk village school's plans to build new premises could be put on hold - because of a nest of newts.

Seething and Mundham Primary School, near Loddon, wants a new building for its 80 pupils opposite the current site on school road.

A Norfolk village school's plans to build new premises could be put on hold - because of a nest of newts.

Seething and Mundham Primary School, near Loddon, wants a new building for its 80 pupils opposite the current site on school road.

A planning application for the £1.5m development will be consid-ered by Norfolk County Council but at a meeting of Seething Parish Council on Monday night it was revealed the discovery of some great crested newts could delay building work.

The amphibians are a protected species and that means developers need to ensure the newts are not in danger of wandering on to the nearby building site.

Norfolk county councillor Adrian Gunson, who represents the Loddon area, said: “They have to be trapped on the land where the development will take place. You can't touch them at all without permission from Natural England and they won't give that permission until the planning permission is granted.”

The plans are unlikely to be approved until the autumn and since the newts can only be trapped in October or March - either side of their hibernation period - the development is not expected to start until April.

It is a blow for supporters of the school who are keen to get pupils into the new building as soon as possible. Plans for the new school have attracted some criticism from villagers who want the old, thatched school building to be kept as part of the new development. Instead, the building will be sold and converted into a house.

Terry Baldwin, who went to Seething Primary School in the 1940s, said it would be a shame to lose the old school. He said: “It holds fond memories for a lot of people. It will be a sad day when it's turned into a house.”

But he said he accepted the need for a new school and would not stand in the way of the development.

Roy Garnham, chairman of Seething Parish Council, said people at Monday's meeting all supported the plans. He said that although he understood the concerns, the changes were necessary.

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