Parent power wins out over school site development plan

WORRIED parents and teachers have won their battle to have a plan to reroute a footpath to their school reconsidered.

Taylor Wimpey (Southern Counties) Ltd has submitted a planning application for 60 new homes at the site of the former Highbury and Fisherton Manor School site in Salisbury, but a proposal to create a new footpath to Manor Fields Primary as part of the development has proved contentious.

At a meeting of Wiltshire Council’s southern area planning committee last night the application was deferred and developers told to look at it again.

Salisbury city councillor Richard Clewer told the committee that despite talks between the developer and the school, no easy solution has been found to the issue.

“At the moment the path is a secure path where there is nowhere else the children can go. This new path would not be.”

Manor Fields is accessed via the private path, with an alternate entrance used only by staff members going to the car park. Parents, teachers and governors feel that changing the path so that it can be used by members of the public including skateboarders, cyclists and dog walkers would be dangerous, particularly because the school caters for children with complex special needs.

A proposed pedestrian access to the site via Highfield Road has also caused concern due to the narrowness of the road and fears about an increase of traffic and more cars parking along the narrow road.

Councillors agreed that it should remain closed, cllr Richard Britten branding any plans to open it a “complete nonsense”, and several councillors suggesting it should be bricked up completely to avoid the issue arising again.

Members of the committee were also concerned about a proposed gated access down some steep steps to a ‘trim trail’ exercise area proposed on the other side of the rerouted school path, which they felt would be unfair on people with mobility issues.

However, the committee was in support of the principal of the application, which is on a site earmarked for development and includes 24 affordable homes, and voted to defer it in order that the developer could come forward with a plan that addresses the access issues and ensures the security of the path to the school.

Committee chairman Fred Westmoreland said: “We are not satisfied with this but we won’t refuse it because there is too much that is good about it, but there are some issues that we just cannot overlook.”

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