Newport school highlights child safety risk from new housing plans

Newport Free Grammar School

Newport Free Grammar School - Credit: Archant

LEADERS at Newport Free Grammar School have written to Uttlesford’s planning committee to stress the need for extra safety measures – if new development is approved on land next to the site.

The committee is due to discuss two outline applications at its next meeting – one for the development of a new care village and five houses on land at Bury Water Lane and Whiteditch Lane; the other for 84 homes on land to the north of Bury Water Lane.

The school is split in two by Bury Water Lane, linked by a zebra crossing and with speed restrictions in place. Pupils have to cross the road several times throughout the day.

Ofsted has identified the highways safety concerns while a report from consultancy firm WSP Ltd, commissioned by the school, concludes that the impact of the proposed developments will exacerbate the problem.

In a joint letter written to planning committee chairman Cllr Jackie Cheetham, the headteacher and chair of governors stress the “major implications” for the safety of the school’s 1,000 students if the applications are approved.

And they’ve called on Cllr Cheetham and her colleagues to “protect Uttlesford’s young people” by ensuring road safety measures will be put in place before any development goes ahead.

Headteacher Gordon Farquhar said: “It is not for the school to take a view for or against further housing in Newport – but we must ensure the safety of our 1,000 students.

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“Ofsted has already highlighted the risks we need to manage with our students having to cross Bury Water Labe several times a day between different parts of our site. If we are to have more traffic generated from new development the council must insist that extra safety measures are put in place first.”

The school has said it is ready to cooperate “in any way possible” to assist in the necessary highways and safety improvements. But it has stressed the financial and other responsibilities in carrying out the improvements “should rest squarely with the promoters and developers of the housing”.

Chair of governors Paul Gray said: “We were astonished earlier this year when the council inexplicably rescinded its original guidance that extra measures would be essential if land near the school was developed.

“If they now decide to approve these applications we call on them to see sense and require those who will profit from the development to implement the measures to protect Uttlesford’s young people that the council specified in the first place.”

The two applications – UTT/13/1817/OP and UTT/13/1769/OP – have received a wealth of objections from residents. They are up for discussion by the planning committee on Wednesday September 25 at UDC’s headquarters on London Road, Saffron Walden.