Record objections to school’s plans

PUBLISHED: 13:23 11 January 2007 | UPDATED: 10:06 31 May 2010

THE Friends School has been accused of ignoring the concerns of residents after redrafted plans to build 144 houses on the site went on view to the public. The school resubmitted plans to Uttlesford District Council last month, reducing the size of the h

THE Friends' School has been accused of ignoring the concerns of residents after redrafted plans to build 144 houses on the site went on view to the public.

The school resubmitted plans to Uttlesford District Council last month, reducing the size of the housing development by 19 homes, after UDC received more than 250 objections to the initial plans, the largest ever for a residential development.

UDC extended the public consultation process to six weeks and people have until January 29 to make their objections known to the planning department.

Saffron Walden's Friends and Neighbours Group are angry as they believe very few of the objections have been taken into account.

Member Catherine Flack said: "The strength of objection to the original proposals was significant and led to the largest file of objections that UDC has received for a residential development.

"This is still a predominately dense, high-rise set of homes that doesn't sit well with the rest of the town and will add significantly to the town's traffic.

"We understand that the school needs to raise money to refurbish and expand, but apart from the desire for the school to maximise its profit, it doesn't have to be done in this insensitive way."

Another group member, Bill Rose, said the new plans would be no less damaging to the local environment.

"It seems that the school has not listened or taken into account any of our concerns and they are determined to concrete over this unique habitat," he said.

"The revised proposal will be as catastrophic as the original for wildlife and biodiversity as 95 per cent of this green lung will be destroyed."

The plans were first submitted last April and comprised of 163 homes, a new performing arts centre, refurbishment of the school's buildings and a new children's play area, along with traffic-calming measures.

It would see the Mount Pleasant Road school sell approximately one third of its land, which is roughly 10 acres, and see it raise the £20 million needed to completely renovate the school.

The school's assistant head Sarah Weterhuis said: "We accept that any development in an urban area is likely to give rise to a number of issues but we are confident that we have followed an evolutionary process of design and that the process has been a model of best practice.

"We recognise that there will always be individuals who have issues with some aspects of the development but there can be no sensible objection to the proposed housing development in policy terms.

"The site lies well within Saffron Walden's development limits and follows guidelines within the Uttlesford District Local Plan mostly making best use of underused land within the town."

The application can be viewed at the council's offices on London Road, Saffron Walden and Great Dunmow High Street and at www.uttlesford.gov.uk

Objections must be made in writing, which can include e-mails sent via the website.

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