Plans to build 50 new houses in Skelmersdale have prompted safety fears for children in the area over a new access road.
Proposals to build 50 new affordable homes on Fairlie, in the Ashurst and Birch Green neighbourhood of the town, have been given the green light by West Lancashire Borough Council.
The £8.3 million development will include 30 two-storey houses, eight bungalows and 12 apartments, available on an affordable rent basis.
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It will be built by the council’s own house building company, Tawd Valley Developments, which confirmed that the company was expecting to be on site early in the new year, following completion of nearby developments at Fairstead and Brierfield.
However, residents fear an access road to the new development will be dangerous for local children.
Councillor James Upjohn welcomed the new development but said an access road would cut through grass which children use to play on and two footpaths used by school children – and was perilously close to children’s play areas.
He said: “Whilst I am not against council housing, as we really do need it, I have concerns about the access road that will go through Fairburn and then cut across the grassed area by Birch Green Skate Park.
“The access road will need to cut across the grassed area which children currently play on. The access road will be very close to existing play equipment and a multi-use games area, and it will cross two existing footpaths which are very well used, including by children on their way to school.
“It will also be about two or three metres away from that multi use games area, and the skate park is not fenced off.
“I would like to see fencing put in place all the way around so that the kids can’t just go running straight across the road
“It is an absolutely fantastic scheme and I’m really pleased that we are getting affordable houses, but my major concern is the access to the site.
“I would be shouting from the rooftops about how brilliant the scheme is if it were not for these concerns.”
He said the company had agreed with him to discuss the safety concerns, adding that he would like to see the skate park fenced off, and traffic calming measures on the access road such as speed bumps.
Highlighting how he was also concerned about the removal of two mature oak trees and a mature ash tree to make way for the access road, he added: “What I don’t want to see is an ice cream van turn up in the layby nearby - and 200 kids just run across the road.”
He had received numerous complaints from nearby residents since the plans were approved, he said, underlining how it was important for people to make their views known during a planning application, as opposed to afterwards, and adding: “We should not be sacrificing kids’ green spaces.”
His fears are backed by residents in the area. Sarah Knowles, 44, of Fairburn, said: “It’s not very good – and it’s not fair on the kids. They haven’t got anywhere else to play, and it’s not good for their safety.
“We have only just moved here, and I’ve just found out about this. I’m not very happy.
“I know people have got to live somewhere, but there’s not enough doctors and schools and dentists as it is in the area."
The mum of two added: “I have got two kids and I will be worried for them, going out to play.”
Mum of one Devon Burgum, 23, said: “People are not happy about that road going through - they have said it’s quite dangerous next to the skate park.
“I have to walk that way to take my daughter to school – I think it is really dangerous.
“Just don’t put the road through where there’s a park.”
Meanwhile, other residents believe the new housing will place additional strain on services that are already struggling to cope.
Rachel Lynch, of Beacon Green, said there was already a lack of dentists and doctors in the town, adding: “In terms of resources, my little boy is two, and we can’t even get him registered with a dentist – he’s never even been to a dentist as there are no spaces anywhere. There are just too many people here now and you can’t get a dentist’s appointment or be seen by a doctor. There are no resources in Skelmersdale as it is.”
Mark Kitts, managing director at Tawd Valley Developments said: “Safety is paramount to Tawd Valley Developments. Prior to planning approval, we demonstrated to the planning and highways authorities’ safety measures which include traffic calming, speed reducing tables, visibility splays, pedestrian safety barriers and bollards.
"We are delighted with the outcome at planning committee and the majority vote in favour of the scheme demonstrates the measures we have gone to as developer to bring forward a high quality and deliverable scheme. We look forward to the delivery of 50 new high quality, affordable homes for West Lancashire Borough Council and for the people of Skelmersdale.”
A spokesperson for West Lancashire Borough Council said: “Whilst it is recognised that a new vehicular access to the site will be taken from Fairburn and cross a grassed area adjacent to the existing multi-use games area and result in the loss of trees, various alternative access options have been investigated and the proposed access was the only feasible route.
The highway authority have considered the safety of pedestrians and the road has been designed to include safety measures. Local infrastructure providers such as schools and medical services are made aware of potential developments in their area in order to plan investments accordingly.”
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