Green light for new homes despite fears for schoolchildren's safety

A visual impression of the scheme earmarked for land to the north of Chapel Road in Wrentham.

A visual impression of the scheme earmarked for land to the north of Chapel Road in Wrentham. - Credit: Chaplin Farrant Ltd

Dozens of new homes are to be built in a village despite concerns over the safety of schoolchildren.

East Suffolk Council's northern planning committee approved plans for 65 new homes and landscaped open space on land north of Chapel Road in Wrentham at a meeting on Tuesday, February 8.

During the meeting, Ian Watson, chair of Wrentham Parish Council, called for councillors to include a condition for the developer to create a place for school buses to pull in, as well as a bus shelter and bicycle storage. 

A visual impression of the scheme earmarked for land to the north of Chapel Road in Wrentham.

A visual impression of the scheme earmarked for land to the north of Chapel Road in Wrentham. - Credit: Chaplin Farrant Ltd

He said: "Parents and children attended our earlier planning meeting to express concerns over child safety when catching the school bus.

"Wrentham has no schools and the closest are too far away for children to walk or cycle.

"Chapel Road is busy with traffic and narrow, not much bigger than a country lane, and buses often mount the grass verge to allow cars to pass.

"Children often congregate on the large grass verge during the morning pick-up, and they have no protection from the rain and nowhere to secure their bikes."

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Mark Nolan, managing director of architects Chaplin Farrant, said a proposed lay-by for buses was considered inappropriate by Highways as it created a blind spot. 

He said: "Our proposals would provide 65 much needed new homes, 20 of which will be affordable, in a landscaped, open-space setting with play equipment open for all residents in Wrentham.

"We have worked closely with the parish council to hear their views and try to address their concerns.

"Children are currently picked up outside Chatten Close, not our site.

"The highways authority are happy we are increasing the width of the road and have no objections."

Councillors unanimously approved the plans, with the planning department to work with the parish council and Highways authority to explore options to improve the bus stop.

Councillor Alison Cackett said: "I understand Highway's concerns about visibility, but there is no thought given to children's safety.

"We live in rural areas where there are only buses to take children to school.

"It is alright saying there has been no accidents so far, but what happens when a child is killed because someone has come roaring up the road after it's been widened?

"It will be too late."