Thursday, 24 July 2014

Bungalow approved despite parents' fears

A BUNGALOW plan which parents and school leaders fear will put children at risk from extra traffic has been allowed on appeal.

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The Planning Inspectorate has allowed an appeal against Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council’s refusal of the plan for 152 Widney Road.

The two-bedroom bungalow - with car access from Widney Close – was rejected by the council over “poor urban design” and had a “layout which is alien and out of character with the surrounding area”.

Jim Hill, who has a son at the school, told the council: “The access of this property has a direct impact on the children going to school.

“It is already a tight squeeze on the pavement and the idea that anyone, at any time could swing out of the drive onto the path used by the children is a very scary prospect.”

Bill Lord said children “run freely around the pavement without risk”.

She said: “The flow of foot pedestrians is so great at peak time that persons are forced to walk in the road.

“With the restricted view that is available from any vehicle entering or exiting the proposed building this poses a further risk to any pedestrians.”

School governor Dr Amelia Jennings said: “It poses a high risk to the safety of pupils arriving to and from Bentley Heath School and Keystone children’s centre.

“There is only one possible path which children can access the main front entrance to school and the access to this bungalow means that vehicles will be crossing this path which is constantly in use throughout the day.

“If this plan goes ahead inevitably it is only a matter of time before there is a serious accident or injury to somebody accessing the school.”

Chairman of governors Andy Carswell said: “I am very concerned at the safety issues that the access to this proposed dwelling house will have being so close to the main entrance to our school.

“Currently there are no drive ways on this side of Widney Close from Widney Road to the school entrance so the  children have a safe walk.”

He said: “By allowing this development to proceed will turn this safe walk way in to more of a danger for children.”

But the inspectorate’s Thomas Shields pointed out the council had not given traffic issues as a reason for refusal.

He said: “While I understand the local concerns relating to the proposed vehicular access and pedestrian safety, I consider it is a very common feature of school travel routes that children and carers have to walk past the access points between private dwellings and the highway.”

He said the “relatively low level” of vehicles using the access “would not be likely to result in a significantly increased risk to highway and pedestrian safety”.

And he said the plan, by Rob Lovell,  would “not appear overly bulky or prominent in the street scene”.



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