GEM Column on Newton Public Meeting

MORE than 100 people packed into the old schoolroom in Newton last Saturday to attend a meeting I called for residents concerned at plans to build new houses in the village.

I organised the meeting in response to the many issues raised with me about the proposals which could see 74 new houses built on the site of the former St John’s school.

At the moment, no planning application has been lodged but a brief was prepared by developers outlining their proposals and inviting residents to comment. This pre-application consultation is currently underway and I wanted to ask people in the community what their views were so that I could frame my response accordingly.

I asked those members of the public who attended whether they were totally opposed to the plan or whether it was some aspects of it that they opposed and which could perhaps be changed. But there was overwhelming opposition in principle to the plan.

A number of objections  were listed by residents and include  the fact that this land is designated at the moment as playing fields, that the area is of ecological importance as wildlife habitat and that some trees may also have to be felled to make way for the new homes.

But the overriding objection concerns the impact on local traffic. Time and again residents spoke about how the roads around St Clare’s School are impassable when children are being dropped off in the mornings and picked up in the afternoons. 

Residents also argue that having the main access into this estate from Birch Walk would be catastrophic because of the increase in traffic not just in Birch Walk itself but also in Danygraig Avenue where all traffic would eventually end up.

The extra traffic is estimated at up to 160 more cars on local roads plus all the attendant delivery vehicles, taxis and service vehicles which will be accessing this new estate.

I have been told that the traffic impact assessment was carried out for the developers on a Sunday. If true, then this is grossly insulting to the local community and must be scrapped and a new one ordered by planners to show what things are like at 8.50am on a Monday morning during term time. That will be the true picture.

There is also the issue of the historical importance of Newton and whether or not this development is in keeping with it. Planners must bear that in mind when making their decision when the time comes.

I would urge everyone with views on this matter to make a submission during the consultation and let me know their views as well. I can be contacted at UK

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