CHESHIRE East Council (CEC) has been given the green light to fork out almost half a million pounds acquiring land needed for the proposed Mobberley CE Primary School expansion.

At a meeting of CEC’s Finance Committee on January 23, approval was given to proceed with the purchase of a dwelling adjacent to the school, Mode Cottage, for the sum of £470,000 - £70,000 above its market value.

As stated in planning documents, the acquisition of Mode Cottage would provide a site sufficient to facilitate the school’s proposed expansion.

The expansion is in response to the anticipated school places shortfall and if plans go ahead, the school’s capacity would increase from 140 to 210 pupil places, providing an additional 70 school places for implementation from September 2014.

Six months ago, Mode Cottage was valued at £400,000 but despite protracted negotiations, the seller would not consider offers less than £470,000. Due to the urgency of the acquisition of land to achieve early expansion of the school, a recommendation was made to purchase the cottage at the full asking price.

However, the purchase of Mode Cottage was not the authority’s first choice.

The original proposal was to construct a two classroom extension with associated toilets and circulation onto the existing rear playground of the school and to negotiate with the adjacent land-owner for acquisition of 615m2 of farmland which would become the replacement playground.

However, an agreement could not be reached with the land-owner due to his concerns over increased traffic and access for construction vehicles over his land. Therefore, Mode Cottage was chosen as the best alternative option.

A consultation period for the expansion of Mobberley CE Primary School is due to commence on February 4. If plans go ahead, the 70 additional places will be phased over several years, with the first intake planned for September 2014.