Colne wildlife area is put in jeopardy

Sacred Heart headteacher John Robertshaw and pupils who are opposed to plans seventeen new homes on land next to the school.
Sacred Heart headteacher John Robertshaw and pupils who are opposed to plans seventeen new homes on land next to the school.

A Colne school is strongly opposing outline plans to build new homes on the wildlife area and prayer garden it has spent £30,000 developing.

The proposals, which have been submitted by Pendle Council’s Dean Langton, could see 17 houses built to the west of Sacred Heart School.

If given approval, the residential development would be situated on greenfield land just off Red Lane. It is expected that each home would contain either four or five bedrooms.

For headteacher Mr John Robertshaw, the plans raise three major concerns – firstly, the fact the development will build on the school’s wildlife area, secondly that some houses will completely overlook the infant play area and finally the further disruption to parking and children’s safety with five access roads planned.

Mr Robertshaw, who did not find out about the proposals until Monday, said: “It was my understanding when I became headteacher that the wildlife area was part of the school grounds. However since learning of the council’s development plans, I have discovered that this area is in fact leased from Pendle Council.

“This is an integral part of our school; it is our prayer garden, wildlife area and has also been used to stage school performances. Over the last seven or eight years, we have spent around £30,000 developing the area for the benefit of the children’s education.

“The new five bedroom houses will come up to the edge of the infant play area, and overlook classrooms and outdoor play areas. As a semi-rural school we are fortunate to be able to give the children a learning environment that is both private and tranquil, this will obviously be eroded by these plans.

“The increased traffic and number of access roads will in my opinion be very dangerous.”

According to the Planning Justification Statement, informal consultations have already taken place with Lancashire County Highways relating to the new road and driveway accesses off Red Lane.

Leader of Pendle Council, Coun. Joe. Cooney said: “At this stage the council’s application is for outline planning permission only.

“As part of our strategy for economic growth, we have recognised that disposing of these sites as housing land would generate an income for the council that can be reinvested in the borough.

“Local residents can comment on either application as part of the planning process.”