CONTROVERSIAL plans to expand a top York school have been approved.

But neighbours said they have lodged a complaint with the Department for Education and suggested they could take legal action.

Residents living near Fulford School hoped plans to build a new teaching block and access route into the school would rid their roads of traffic from buses and cars taking pupils to and from the site.

But the proposals will see buses enter the school from the existing route in Fulfordgate and exit through the new Germany Beck development – with residents in both areas criticising the plans.

Neighbour John Heawood told a planning committee: “Like many neighbours I objected not to the school’s expansion but to its transport proposals.”

He said residents have lodged a formal complaint with the Department for Education over the Regional School Commissioner’s decision to agree to the school’s expansion.

“We still hope as promised to have all school buses and much other traffic removed from Fulforgate to a purpose-built access via Germany Beck,” he said.

The Germany Beck route was also planned for use by school buses, pedestrians and cyclists only, which Mr Heawood said was not fair as cars and other school traffic would be restricted to using only Fulfordgate.

He said: “If the condition stays, I imagine some of us might seek legal opinion.”

Mary Urmston of Fulford Parish Council said residents of Fulfordgate were assured the changes would ease their traffic woes and take much of the traffic through Germany Beck.

“We appreciate that Fulford School is an outstanding school and that we would have wished to support this expansion,” she said. “However, we have serious concerns.”

City of York Council leader Keth Aspden, who is also ward councillor for Fulford and vice chairman of Fulford Parish Council, spoke at the meeting, saying: “While the expansion is clearly a positive step for children and families, it’s imperative that the views of residents are taken into account.”

Steve Lewis, head teacher of Fulford School, said: “I believe we have developed a plan that minimises the impact on both Fulfordgate and Germany Beck, but I acknowledge that they do not completely satisfy either.

“Our buildings currently let pupils down. They deserve better and I’m speaking up for them. Fulford School is chronically oversubscribed. The school was approached by the council to expand to ensure that enough secondary school spaces would be available.”

He said the access route has been made one-way because the site is constrained and the safety of pupils around traffic is the priority.

The council’s highways team said the number of school buses is set to increase by two or three when pupil numbers rise and that this is not enough to make a significant impact on current traffic.

The school is due to increase pupil numbers from 1,625 to 1,860 and Mr Lewis hopes the building work will be complete by September 2022.

Under the plans, 43 new parking spaces are to be created on the northern side of the school, a two storey building will be constructed following the part demolition of the Hawking block, temporary buildings will be removed and replaced with temporary classrooms, an external lift will be added to the Bronte building and a new road created to the south of the site in to Germany Beck.

Councillors raised concerns over plans to cut down up to 30 trees during the works and asked that these be replaced by similar mature trees.

The plans were approved by a majority vote.