New homes plan met with concerns about safety of pupils

A map of how the proposals for the new homes off Yeomanry Drive in Baldock may look

A map of how the proposals for the new homes off Yeomanry Drive in Baldock may look - Credit: BBR Architects

Councillors have backed plans to build 23 more homes in Baldock, despite residents saying it would “endanger” the lives of pupils walking to school.

North Herts Council applied for outline planning permission to build new homes off Yeomanry Drive in August 2020, which will vary from one-bedroom units to four-bedroom homes.

Permission was granted at a meeting of the district council’s Planning Control Committee on Thursday, November 18.

During the meeting, a resident raised concerns about the impact on parking in the local area, and a risk to the safety of children accessing Hartsfield School.

A parent who lives adjacent to the site said he was representing a number of local people, who were concerned the safety of parents and pupils would be put “heavily at risk” by the development.

While the new development wouldn’t affect the main access into the school, it would affect those who use the rear entrance to the school from Clothall Common.

He told councillors: “I’m no authority or expert in this setting but more a genuinely worried resident.

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“When the collective came together over the last couple of weeks to discuss this application it was so evident worry was the common view.

“Our focal objection centres around safety and how it coincides with the extremely close proximity of Hartsfield School.

“The safety of children and parents alike is heavily at risk with traffic and parking already a major issue around Downlands and Yeomanry Drive at school drop-off and pick-up times.”

They concluded: “I’m completely aware of the housing situation nationally and the shortage of homes, but we can’t endanger lives by cramming such an amount of real estate into a relatively small area.”

However, councillors were supportive of the scheme. Councillor David Levett (Conservative, Letchworth South East) said he had sympathy with residents but said:  “I don’t actually think this is going to contribute and make it any worse – it’s 24 dwellings with adequate parking spaces.”

The councillor added: “Yes, you have got an existing problem there, but it’s not our job to try and solve that existing problem – the easy way is close the [school’s] back gate. But it’s not our job to do that, so as far as this application is concerned, I don’t think that’s a valid objection to it.”

The site had previously been allocated for housing in the district council’s Local Plan, so had been earmarked for development.

Residents also raised concern about the loss of wildlife and biodiversity on the site, and the loss of green space, while Hertfordshire County Council, acting as lead flood authority, also maintained an objection with the developer’s Flood Risk Assessment. However, officers said this could be solved through conditions and at a later process.

Council officers had recommended that the scheme was approved, and members unanimously backed the proposals.

In granting permission, councillors agreed to include conditions that would limit access to the construction site during pick-up and drop-off times.

Reserved matters in the application, including the specific layout of the site, will be determined at a later stage.