WALSALL: School safety fears over housing plan
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A worried Walsall head teacher feared residents in proposed new housing would have been able look straight into schools and put students at risk.
Members of Walsall Council’s planning committee rejected plans by developer Eric Russell to build five three-bedroom houses on land behind 105, 107 and 109 Lichfield Road in Bloxwich.
This was due to concerns about road safety for school children and the tight access that would be created for vehicles to come in and out of the new development.
And Jon Clarke, shadow headteacher of nearby Walsall Academy, said the homes would be too close to his school and the neighbouring Millfields Nursery, creating safeguarding issues for pupils.
He said: “This development is proposed for 7.4 metres away from the rear of Walsall Academy.
“It would also provide a clear view straight into Millfields Nursery, the changing facility for young children and it’s learning area and we believe that infringes the safeguarding procedures to keep children safe in education.
“It would also provide a clear viewpoint into Walsall Academy itself onto the social areas which students frequent during lunch breaks and after school activities.
“There are no houses which overview any learning areas either to Millfields Nursery or to Walsall Academy or have no direct line of sight. They are all either blocked by trees or are far too far away. How would we safeguard our children?
“Our students and school represent our local community with over 1,300 students. The majority of those access past where the proposed development entrance will be.
“Now, you may say that is only in the morning or after school. But they come in on staggered start and exits and we have a large sixth form of over 400 students who work flexibly.
“We’ve already have road traffic accidents and there have been some traffic management measures put in place along that road.
“It is right next to the bus stop. We believe it would create road traffic incidents and again be a safeguarding infringement.”
Chartered traffic engineer Andy Oates, representing the developers, argued the highways officers reasons for refusal were “technically flawed” and added the access road was wide enough to cope with vehicles passing one another.
But committee chairman Mike Bird said: “It is fair to say both our highways officers and (Mr Oates) are agreeing you can accommodate two vehicles side by side but it’s a little bit tight.”
Councillor Khizar Hussain added: “There is genuine concern about highways safety and the visibility of children. There are access and exit issues too.”
Members voted to refuse the application at the meeting on Thursday (November 4).
Words: Gurdip Thandi, Local Democracy Reporter
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