The following text relates to the post yesterday on the Special Parish Council held to decide the Parish Council's position on the proposed move of Chapel Road School to Old Buckenham.
Appendix 1. Comments on planning application.
While Old Buckenham Parish Council approved application y/3/2014/3006, Chapel Road School Relocation, a number of significant areas of concern, errors and omissions were found, see below. This resulted in the listing of a number of conditions that we request the applicants meet.
The proposed development is outside the village boundary; the justification given for this within the Planning Statement is that it is a sustainable development, and that no other sites were available.
With respect to the former, it cannot be described as sustainable as both staff and pupils will be entirely dependent on cars and minibuses as there is little to no public transport in the area. Whilst it is accepted that public transport is not a realistic option for the majority of the pupils, the vast majority of vehicle movements (according to the Transport Statement) will be generated by staff, who have no reason not to use public transport, if it were available.
In relation to the availability of other sites, a list is provided within the Appendices of the Planning Statement, which lists a number of other sites that were considered. A number of these have been discounted solely for the reason that they are outside the settlement boundary, with little or no public transport, and therefore unsustainable. This is exactly the same case for the current location, a point acknowledged in the applicant’s analysis of the current site. It is therefore unclear why this particular site was considered the most suitable.
In summary, the proposed development is located in open countryside, where there is a general presumption against development. Whilst the NPPF introduces a presumption in favour of sustainable development, this development cannot be considered sustainable, primarily due to its reliance on the private vehicle, and is therefore contrary to both the Adopted Development Plan and the NPPF.
One of the primary reasons given for choosing this location for the school the building at this location is the potential for integration with mainstream schools. However, it is unclear the extent to which such integration currently takes place, or is intended to in the future, as no information appears to be provided within the application supporting information.
The Design and Access statement states that public access to the MUGA and other facilities would be through the village hall boundary. The Village Hall has made it clear that this is not an option due to an already oversubscribed car park.
The Transport Statement describes that there is unlikely to be an increase in traffic travelling through Old Buckenham. With up to 80 teachers arriving, a total of 38 minibus movements in and out, and 16 private car movements in and out (134 movements in total at each end of the day) and around 50% going through the village, there will be a significant traffic increase especially considering these movements will take place during peak times.
The Transport Statement describes no safety measures where the access road joins the B1077 at a point where cars could be travelling at 60mph. The document describes an 85th percentile speed of 35mph using the moving observer method, Sample sizes have not been disclosed. Independent measurement reveals a 42mph 85th percentile speed, determined by timing a vehicle over a known distance with a sample size of 50. An 85th percentile speed of 42mph requires a 120m vision splay; the plans show a splay of only 90m on the south side.
Insufficient parking spaces have been provided for staff when pupil numbers reach target. A target of 11% reduction in single occupancy journeys has been set, with no plans on how this will be achieved or what sanctions will be applied if target is not achieved; it therefore a meaningless aim.
The design of the building is poor and is not in keeping with the neighbourhood; the building is extremely large in footprint, and whilst it is accepted that the building form is, in part, dictated by a need to meet certain operational requirements, the architectural treatment makes no attempt to break up the visual mass. The building is poorly articulated, bulky and unattractive. It pays no respect to local architecture, and does nothing to enhance local distinctiveness. It is therefore contrary to both the Adopted Development Plan and the NPPF.
The Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) is inaccurate and misleading. It makes no attempt to summarise the many and varied issues raised by local residents at the consultation event of 17 and 18 June. There was a significant turn-out from villagers at this event, which is not conveyed within the SCI. The key issues debated following NCC’s presentation at this event related primarily to highway safety and traffic.
Old Buckenham does not have public street lights and most importantly does not want them. This development has significant external lighting and if not properly controlled, there is potential for both light and noise pollution.
It would appear that utilities have not been consulted based on the absence of any consultation to the water authority, who also denied knowledge of the development when telephoned, and the electricity companies. The new school will significantly increase the population during the day and we already have areas of the village with low water pressure.
The room adjacencies diagram in the design and access statement refer to expansion of the current building. No details of this proposed expansion are given in the application
The support of Old Buckenham Parish Council is subject to the following conditions.
Moving the 30 mph limit to include the new entrance to the B1077.
New entrance to be a mini roundabout.
A 20mph temporary speed limit at school start and end times (to include the B1077 to the Memorial, Hargham Road and Abbey Road).
Crossing refuges at the Hargham Road junction and the Memorial junction to be installed
Transport levels have been detailed in the transport statement, therefore movements in and out of the school must be capped at these levels.
The restriction on the new relief road being for the new school only to be lifted as access to the recreation area and to the primary school could relieve traffic and parking pressure significantly.
External lighting is to be switched off by 10pm at the latest. Also the pitch and MUGA be relocated to the paddock area to reduce noise and light pollution.
The barrier position is too close to the B1077. Any delays caused by the barrier will very quickly back traffic to the main road, therefore barriers must be moved to the car park entrance.
The transport statement states that building traffic will not pass through the village. All contractors and suppliers are to commit to taking disciplinary action against drivers who ignore this requirement.