The report was presented by the Principal Planning Officer and included the following updates:
- There were some plan references and date updates to Condition 2
- Condition 6 had a sentence added referring to a drawing reference
- Condition 7 refers to dpc rather than ground level
- Condition 8 omits the words ‘off site’ to the title
- Condition 9 included a plan reference number with respect to the proposed footway/cycleway recently received
- Condition 22 will also refer to a plan ref no which is based upon advice from the FRM
- Condition 23 had now been omitted as is not required as the license has been signed and agreed
- Condition 24 had a plan reference update change
- Condition 30 had a sentence added to say ‘in particular no flooring and lighting shall be installed in the sports hall until the specification has been agreed with Sports England’
- Condition 31 had been omitted as it not required
- Finally there are very minor reference and word changes to Conditions 37 and 41
Steve Taylor commented he wasn’t aware that the application spread over both sides of the road and enquired where the boundary was for the up-and-coming Lower Thames Crossing on Stanford Road. Officers explained the distance between the application and the boundary line was around 100m Highways England had been consulted with and had no objections to the application. Members are further advised there was access to both north and south of the highway which included a pedestrian crossing and as part of the recommendation £20,000 would be included for highway improvement as part of the development.
Councillor Byrneenquired further to the email from a Ward Councillor which had been circulated to Members as to whether any weight had been given to drop off and pick up points as part of the application. The Principal Planning Officer explained it was vital there was to be no dropping off on Stanford Road and in addition a detailed travel plan had been included as part of the application which included pick up and drop off points.
During discussions it was confirmed that access to Treetops School was included as part of the development and that works had been consented by the Highways Authority and were due to start in the New Year.
The Chair of the Committee enquired as to the use of King Edward Drive and Buxton Road and asked if the existing entry for Treetops School via these roads was to be discouraged. The Senior Highways Engineer confirmed that once the new road had been completed this would be the desired entry and exit to the school. Councillor Kelly, Chair of the Committee continued by enquiring as to what officers would do should parents park on King Edward Drive instead of the drop-off and pick up point located within the school grounds. The Senior Highways Engineer commented that there were not many children at present who would be attending the new school from the estate of which King Edwards Drive was part of , he continued to explain that there were options which could be used to prevent parking such as double yellow lines, however this would need to be looked into not only from a safety perspective but also the possibility of affecting residents who currently live in the area.
At 8:15 pm, the committee agreed to suspend standing orders until 9:30 pm.
Councillor Piccolo enquired as to whether there was enough room to have three lanes in each direction towards the access point on the Stanford Road for the school as currently the road was a single road carriageway. The Senior Highways Engineer assured members there was plenty of room for the proposed three lanes which would then merge into one and advise if necessary the speed of the road could be reduced, for example to 30 mph.
Councillor Polley remarked on the open spaces towards the Treetops School site and asked if the sports pitches were to be used by the school. She continued by stating if it was, she had concerns with excited children trying to cross the Stanford Road and there would presumably be no changing rooms or toilets provided. The Senior Highways Engineer commented that the school would be asked to supervise children when crossing the road and the possibility of having a bridge in place was not only expensive but also took up room on the highway. He continued by stating that there would be a provision in place for children waiting to cross the road.
Councillor Watson raised concerns with regards to whether officers were confident for the next academic year Stanford Road could cope with an increase of traffic movements. The Senior Highways Engineer stated following the traffic assessment the road and signals would cope with the increasing traffic. He continued by commenting a traffic management plan hadn’t as yet been decided as officers would need to liaise with local residents, it was noted that if there any parking issues officers could deal with these and then include them in a traffic management plan.
The Principal Planning Officer replied to Members queries confirming there was tight wording which had been agreed with the applicant and Sport England, that when the school were not using sports pitches these could be used for community uses and that the southern pitches would be used for community uses.
Councillor Liddiard enquired, if a preferred route for children who lived on Long Lane would be from the north west of the site, this could mean walking across Blackshots Playing field. Officers confirmed that it would be encouraged for children to walk to school and if parents decided to park for a short time in Blackshots car park, to drop the children so they could walk to school as long as it did not cause any issues within the car park itself, they could not see any problems with this.
During discussions Members queried as to the impact the increase traffic would have on Danehole Roundabout and how the children would be arriving at the school, for example would there be any school buses to provide transport within the catchment area. Officers explained that the estimated travel plan expected 204 children to walk, 98 to cycle, 123 to travel via car, 21 to car share, four by taxi and four via scooter.
Councillor Byrne stated they should be getting the application right, with regards to children getting to school at this stage not later down the line waiting to see if anything would happen. The Senior Highways Engineer advised if Members wished for restrictions to be included from the start as part of the application this was something officers could look into and include.
Speaker Statements were heard from:
Michael Gamble, Resident in objection.
Joy Redsell, Ward Councillor in support.
Steve Mundy, CEO South West Essex Community Education Trust in support.
Councillor Fletcher enquired as to how the applicant knew what the objector was going to say as he covered some points within his speakers statement. Democratic Services explained that any objections were sent to the applicant as outlined within the Constitution to give the applicant the opportunity to respond to the objectors comments.
Councillor Halden remarked the Council had worked with the Multi-Trust the Academy was part of, and therefore knew how to work well with them. He continued to explain that Pupil Place Plans were in high demand across the borough and the figures were growing. Council Halden commented that the existing school was only a temporary building with 240 children and although it was not perhaps the ideal location, he was confident that mitigation could be put in place should there be any traffic issues which would ensure children’s safety was a priority.
Councillor Polley expressed her concerns with regards to traffic issues not only made by residents but also a local Ward Councillor. She continued by stating she felt it was important the school had a designated drop off and pick up points.
Steve Taylor stated that although he understood there was a need for the application and more schools within the borough, he did not feel the location was the best place for the development especially with a volume of traffic along Stanford Road.
Councillor Fletcher commented he agreed with Councillor Halden there was a need for schools in the borough, however he had concerns with regards to the location of the application and felt that in relation to Stanford Road the risks and concerns needed to be dealt with before agreeing the application.
Councillor Watson also agreed that schools was needed and although she too had concerns with regards to the location it was clear the school would soon be at full capacity for the new academic year and therefore highlighted its need in the area.
Following advice from the Principal Planning Officer, hearing the Ward Councillor’s statement, and Members debate, Members agreed to the following wording for the Travel Plan:
“10. Prior to the to the first operation of the school buildings hereby permitted, a Travel Plan shall be submitted to and agreed in writing with the local planning authority. The Travel Plan shall include the Mode Shift STARS Travel Plan process and detail specific measures to reduce the number of journeys made by car to the school buildings hereby permitted and shall include specific details of the operation and management of the proposed measures including specific drop-off and pick-up controls. The commitments explicitly stated in the Travel Plan shall be binding on the applicants or their successors in title. The measures shall be implemented upon the first operational use of the building hereby permitted and shall be permanently kept in place unless otherwise agreed in writing with the local planning authority. Upon written request, the applicant or their successors in title shall provide the local planning authority with written details of how the agreed measures contained in the Travel Plan are being undertaken at any given time.”
Councillor Halden proposed the officer’s recommendation and was seconded by Councillor Polley.
For: (6) Councillors Tom Kelly (Chair), Steve Liddiard (Vice-Chair), James Halden, Terry Piccolo, Georgette Polley and Lee Watson
Against: (2) Councillors Gary Byrne and Mike Fletcher