A DECISION over a controversial school expansion in Southampton has been “called-in” amid concerns.

Civic chiefs are set to scrutinise the city council’s decision to back plans for the expansion of Hope Community School.

The school currently accommodates year groups R through to 4, with one class per year.

But under the new plans there would be double the number of classes.

It comes as Hope Community School – which is currently based in an “inappropriate facility” at Central Hall in St Mary’s Street – is set to be relocated to  a brand-new building on land at the corner of Lime Street and Evans Street.

The move would be part of a multi-million pound government investment.

On Monday evening cabinet members at Southampton City Council backed the proposals and agreed to sell the land to the government.

But Cllr Lorna Fielker, chair of the overview and scrutiny management committee, has called-in the decision.

She asked for more details over the need for a school expansion in the city centre and reassurance over the provision of Special Educational Needs (SEND) school places at the site.

On Monday, Kirsten Buist, chair of the Primary Heads Group, raised concerns over the impact of the proposed school expansion on existing primary schools in the city.

Deputy council leader Councillor Jeremy Moulton described the proposals as “a golden opportunity”.

But Cllr Fielker said more evidence is needed and the plans are now set to be scrutinised at a special meeting expected to be held next Wednesday.

Cllr Fielker said the decision to call-in the plans is not an objection to the proposals for a new school building for Hope Community School.

But she added: “It is a concern about this school expansion and we want to understand those details. I am concerned that the decision has not taken into account the impact it would have on the neighbouring schools. What we are not seeing is evidence that there is a demand for additional places within the city.”

The news comes as in an official report council bosses said Southampton “currently has a surplus of primary school places, that is envisaged to continue for the foreseeable future”.

But they also said that there is “a minimal risk surrounding schools may need to make redundancies” and “pupil numbers will rise in the longer term” as a result of plans for thousands of homes in the area.

Cllr Moulton said he is “disappointed” to see that the decision has been called-in.

But he said the administration is determined to secure the government investment.

He stressed that planning permission has already been granted for 1,400 new homes in the city centre and there are plans for thousands of new homes as part of major developments such as the Leisure World scheme.

He added: “We are determined to support the school with the new building. We will listen to further questions but our intention is to go-ahead with the project.”

He also said the council is looking into plans to provide SEND places at the site.