County highways team slammed for ‘inconsistency’ as councillors refuse housing scheme for former infant school

Plans to update a housing scheme for the former infants school in Silverstone have been dismissed by councillors.

Monday, 10th February 2020, 3:45 pm
Updated Monday, 10th February 2020, 3:46 pm
Councillors at South Northamptonshire Council questioned why the highways team at the county council had changed its mind on a planning application for the former infant school at Silverstone

Developers had been hoping to win outline planning permission to convert the existing school building on the High Street into a large home and to build three other homes within the school grounds.

Outline planning consent already exists from April 2017 to convert the school into homes, with two in the grounds, but applicants GRW Planning wanted to slightly alter the plans. But the updated application was denied by members of South Northamptonshire Council’s planning committee when it met on Thursday (February 6) at The Forum in Towcester.

It came after the authority’s planning officers recommended refusing the scheme due to ‘dangerous’ access to the site, which is down a long and narrow lane. Officers stated: “It would give rise to serious highway safety issues, including dangerous manoeuvres, placing both pedestrians and other highway users at serious risk.”

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Concerns were raised that the county council’s highways team had not properly considered the original scheme when commenting. In the April 2017 application, the highways team raised no objections in principal. But almost three years on, the department admitted that issues with the access were ‘not fully considered’ in the previous application and that it had now decided to raise an objection against the scheme.

The updated highways response said: “There are various safety issues involved with this access. There is no pedestrian visibility available when exiting the proposed development to the left hand side; the very narrow access, with no passing places, will result in drivers either

reversing back down the access into the site or out onto the highway. The access is not wide enough to facilitate emergency vehicle usage.”

Ward councillor Dermot Bambridge also objected ‘if no alternative suitable access can be provided to the site both during and after construction’ while the parish council also objected as heavy vehicles during construction would affect the cellar and wall of one of the neighbouring properties, which is owned by the parish council’s chairman James Laband, who spoke against the application at the meeting.

Members of the committee hit out at the county council’s highways team for seemingly not considering the first application sufficiently.

Councillor Steven Hollowell said: “I’m surprised it has taken highways two years to recognise that there’s a road there. If they had raised these objections two years ago then I would have voted it down back then. It seems ridiculous that we can’t rely on consultees to come up with consistent information.”