Reject planning for 65 houses behind West Leigh Infant School in Backwell.

Reject planning for 65 houses behind West Leigh Infant School in Backwell.

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Lilianna Bakinowska started this petition to North Somerset Council

As Parents, Grandparents, Guardians and Carers of children attending: West Leigh Infant School,  Meadowside and Rainbow Pre-Schools, Judo Club, Backwell Athletic Junior Football Club, Backwell Football Club (seniors), Beavers, Cub Scouts, Explorer Scouts and many other recreational activities that take place on Backwell Playing Fields, we strongly object to the proposed development of 65 houses right next door to ALL of the above. This is the social hub of Backwell Village and building in this specific location would negatively impact almost everyone in our village and particularly some of our most vulnerable, our children.

Many of us grew up enjoying our wonderful infant school and its surrounding facilities, and many of us chose the village of Backwell as a place to live thinking of the welfare of our children, wanting them to grow up in a safe and tranquil environment, far away from industrial sites and traffic. We wanted our children to be surrounded by green fields, where they could play and learn about nature and wildlife. West Leigh Infant School, Meadowside and Rainbow preschools and The Playing Fields all provide a quiet and peaceful environment for our children, where they can run, walk, sit, socialise and play, SAFELY… all of which supports their physical and mental development.

All these wonderful facilities are right next door to the planned development site. We are highly concerned about the welfare of our children, particularly after almost 2 years of lockdowns and disruption to our children’s education and their ability to be able to socialize and mix and play.  The effect on them during the build, which may be considered as a short-term issue and not seen by NSC as a real threat, would in our view, be devastating for their physical and mental health.

We are concerned that the 200+ young children from West Leigh Infant School, and both, Pre-Schools would be exposed every day for up to 2 years (this is how long it may take to build the estate) to constant noise created by power tools, pile drivers and heavy machinery, enormous and loud heavy vehicles and sweepers going around all day long. We are extremely worried that children won’t be able to focus or enjoy their daily school life or after school activities. That windows may need to be kept closed because of the high noise levels and therefore increasing the risk of COVID19 spreading, or that windows will remain open, and the children will be exposed to noise and the disruption that would cause.

We are incredibly concerned that our children’s physical health will be at risk, due to the daily exposure to air pollution from HG vehicles and dust created constantly from the building site. That our children will be prevented from enjoying their playtimes outside during this period, or indeed are kept indoors whilst the work commences. Both scenarios would be extremely damaging to our young children and surely must be considered?

It is not until you live near to a building site, that you realise just how much noise and air pollution is created. There have been many complaints about noise and dust coming from the current building site on Moor Lane (Coppice Place). Heavy vehicles pass by all day long in front of people’s homes, creating constant noise and leaving a trail of air pollution behind. Not to mention the builders listening to constant loud music and using inappropriate language all day long. Can you imagine that directly behind the premises where your children are learning and playing? Every day 9am to 3pm for up to 2 years?

There is an extensive body of scientific evidence supporting the positive impact that Green Fields and Spaces have on the health and wellbeing of communities and particularly children.  On the other hand, the negative impact of noise and air pollution on the health and wellbeing of children and adults alike, being in such proximity, to building sites is also well documented. We strongly believe that both the mental and physical health of the 200+ young children and the wider community would be impacted to an unacceptable level by this development if it were permitted to go ahead.

We have grave concerns about the pedestrian and vehicle access to West Leigh Infant School and both, Meadowside and Rainbow Pre-schools, the Scout Hut and Judo hut etc.  These narrow roads would be highly impacted by heavy vehicles and machinery accessing the building site during the building stage and would continue to be highly dangerous if 65 houses were built on this site.  It is already difficult to park a car on the school drop-offs and pick-ups. Rodney Road is particularly busy at school run times and we are concerned that site traffic will make access to the School and Pre-Schools impossible.  Adding another 65 houses, with potential 100+ cars (with a possible 2 cars per household) would create additional traffic on an already busy road.  However, the biggest danger is for those children who walk to and from School and Pre-School every day. Hundreds of children playing football fill the Playing Fields during the evenings and at weekends, children attending Scouts, Beavers, Rainbows and Judo Club, all using the same entrance on Rodney Road. The same entrance that is being proposed for the 65 houses with a single narrow footpath on one side. More traffic, more noise, more pollution, more danger for our children.

The public footpath running from Rodney Road Playing Fields, is used by hundreds of families every day to access West Leigh Infant School/Meadowside Pre-School and Rainbows Pre-School, if this application were granted then this footpath would become inaccessible and those families would be forced onto footpaths next to busy roads, creating more danger and a less enjoyable and ‘safe route to school’ walk.

The land being proposed for the 65 houses is used every day by hundreds of people for recreational activities – walking, jogging and dog walking, it is full of wildlife. The children from both Pre-Schools go for walks, pick blackberries, flowers, explore and play there. This land currently acts as a buffer around West Leigh Infant School, Meadowside and Rainbow Pre-Schools, ensuring a calm environment and clean air for our children, it is an extension to the Playing Fields, which is so well-loved and used in our village. The land is also currently supporting the preservation of the wildlife, especially our bat habitat, and turning it into a housing estate may contribute to the permanent loss of ecosystems and biodiversity in this area, something we must now take seriously as we rank as one of the worst countries in the world, having already lost, almost 50% of our biodiversity.

This development is also not part of our Neighbourhood Plan, and whilst we understand the need for housing this proposal does not offer any benefits to the local community, because of its unsuitable location and the access issues and dangers associated with it. The negatives far outweigh the positives for this planning application.

The Schools, Pre-Schools and medical services will soon reach full capacity, and in our view, this development will place a further strain on our already overstretched infrastructure and environment.

We hope North Somerset Council will consider our point of view, as we are highly concerned about the detrimental impact this development would have on the health and wellbeing of our young children, and the greater community. We strongly believe it would impact our children’s learning, focus, stress levels, as well as their physical and mental health, which would, in turn, affect the welfare of parents, carers and the wider family.

In conclusion, this planning application should be refused based on the detrimental impact it would have on our community, and in particular the most vulnerable members of our community, our children.  A plan to build 65 houses in such close proximity to an Infant School, 2 Pre-Schools and the village Playing Fields, with such limited access issues is fundamentally flawed and frankly dangerous in our view, and we strongly urge North Somerset Council to reject it.

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