Developers have 'Residents' support' to transform old language school in Saffron Walden

PUBLISHED: 09:32 23 July 2009 | UPDATED: 21:51 31 May 2010

DEVELOPERS plotting to build over 60 homes on a former school site in Saffron Walden have expressed delight that their plans have the support of residents. Ashwell Homes want to convert the main building at the former Bell Language School into flats and b

DEVELOPERS plotting to build over 60 homes on a former school site in Saffron Walden have expressed delight that their plans have the support of residents.

Ashwell Homes want to convert the main building at the former Bell Language School into flats and build two apartment blocks, a 58-bed care home, and sections of three-storey terraced housing. They also want to relocate an infants nursery.

The developers insist the proposals will not throw up any traffic problems and, after consulting with residents on South Road, have unleashed a timescale for the project - consisting of three phases.

Planning director, Simon Butler-Finbow, told the Reporter: "If we get planning permission in September we would clear the whole area in one go.

"Following that we would expect to have both affordable housing blocks completed by the end of 2010 with the care home following shortly after. Then the extra houses and the school conversion would follow depending on market requirements.

"We have managed to engage with over 200 local residents at every level of our proposals and we have included a number of factors which we think will help the local community."

Currently the school is empty and neighbours have complained about the site falling into disrepair over the last 18 months. But concerns have also been raised about potential traffic issues any development may have on the area.

However, Mr Butler-Finbow said: "The new estate has been designed with long driveways so that anyone leaving during peak periods will only be queuing on the new private roads.

"This means that the amount of extra cars will have no negative traffic effects on the adjacent roads.

"The care home will be a 24-hour facility so traffic will not have the same peak periods in the mornings and afternoons. We expect the home to be staffed by local workers and so biking or taking the bus will be encouraged."

He also outlined that the project will include a footpath-widening scheme to improve access for parents with pushchairs visiting the St Thomas More Catholic Primary School, as well as a range of aesthetic features.

"We will be providing the Bell Nursery with a brand new facility and also standardising the outskirts of the site by replanting hedges and keeping trees. We will also reconstruct an old tree-lined avenue at the entrance that is now overgrown," he said.

A green focus encompasses the site as solar panels, rainwater harvesters and air heating modules will all be included in every building.

Forty per cent of the final housing on offer will be in the affordable housing bracket.

Jenny Rivers, co-manager at the Bell Nursery, which has been on the site for 20 years, described the development as "a wonderful opportunity".

WHAT do you think? E-mail us at editor@saffronwalden-reporter.co.uk


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Saffron Walden Reporter. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Saffron Walden Reporter