It’s No’ again to new school plan

PUBLISHED: 08:04 19 January 2006 | UPDATED: 20:09 28 May 2010

By DOMINIC BAREHAM RESIDENTS have vowed to continue fighting a school s development plans after rejecting a redrafted design for new facilties and housing. Friends School in Saffron Walden has reworked its proposals to build a performing arts centre with

By DOMINIC BAREHAM

RESIDENTS have vowed to continue fighting a school's development plans after rejecting a redrafted design for new facilties and housing.

Friends School in Saffron Walden has reworked its proposals to build a performing arts centre with a 300-seat theatre, renovate the main building and construct 163 homes, following concerns raised by the Friends and Neighbours Group.

One of the changes was to move the planned site access to Debden Road so there would not be the build-up of traffic on the estate roads, as would have happened if the entrances had been at St John's Close and Greenways.

But Helen Riches, representing the group, said most of the members were still worried about the likely impact on the surrounding area.

In particular, they were opposed to many of the new homes being flats because these would not fit in with the style of the other houses, and did not want the one access point onto Debden Road, which is already congested.

The campaigners also fearing that one space per property would not be enough and consequently there would be increased on-street parking.

A proposed drop-off point for young pupils in the middle of the housing estate was also considered impractical, while there were worries the development would be too big and would overlook neighbours.

The group's other concern was that the school had not got a report from Essex County Council Highways department about road safety.

The development was unveiled last Easter. Public consultation resulted in design changes, on which the public were invited to comment last weekend.

Mrs Riches said: "We want to fight it on every level. A planning application is going to go in in two weeks' time.

"We are told they won't change it and we want to oppose it when it comes to the planning stage."

And another group member, Anne Cardwell, who lives in West Road, believed the limited parking was part of a government campaign to get everyone using public transport, but Saffron Walden's transport links were inadequate.

She said: "Friends School cannot be held responsible for government policy. However, they are accountable for their own decisions.

"If we are to believe they want to contribute to the quality of life in this town, rather than help erode it, let us see them revise these disastrous plans."

David Stacey, of Newport Road, was worried the town's infrastructure would not be able to cope, as doctors, dentists and hospital facilities were already scarce while train services from Audley End were often poor and overcrowded.

The new buildings are needed to accommodate the growing numbers of pupils, and will include a three-storey boarding house and sixth form boarding and study centre.

Local groups would be able to use the performing arts centre.

A school spokeswoman said it would be contributing to improvements at the Mount Pleasant Road-Debden Road junction even though traffic reports said it would be 45 per cent below peak capacity after the development had taken place.

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