PLANS for a new teaching block at Holmes Chapel Comprehensive could have ‘potentially serious implications for emergency vehicles and residents’ on already gridlocked roads, a councillor fears.

The school has applied for full planning permission to build a new stand-alone teaching block with classrooms to cater for an additional 150 pupils.

The application has been recommended for approval by Cheshire East’s planning officers.

But Dane Valley councillor Les Gilbert has called it in, asking Wednesday’s meeting of the southern planning committee to consider the highways implications ‘in the absence of any proposals to mitigate the impact of additional journeys to school by car’.

Winsford Guardian:

Cllr Les Gilbert

In his letter to the committee, Cllr Gilbert states: “Despite the best efforts of the school to encourage considerate parking, residents’ drives are regularly blocked making it impossible to get into or out of them. When challenged, parents are often abusive.

“The problem is particularly bad in Grasmere Drive and the cul-de-sacs off it, where parents park to gain access to the pedestrian entrance to the school site.”

He said police often attend to try and moderate driver behaviour.

“Traffic conditions in this location are chaotic at the start and end of the school day and members of staff are deployed to assist with traffic management,” said Cllr Gilbert.

“The congestion could severely impede access to Portree Drive, often referred to as the longest cul-de-sac in England, and Selkirk Drive and the cul-de-sacs off them.

“This could have potentially serious implications for emergency vehicles as well as commuters and other residents.”

The planning officer’s report, due to go before Wednesday’s meeting, states the council’s highways department has no objections to the proposed development.

“The provision of the additional building is not considered to lead to material highways impacts on the surrounding local road network and no objections are raised by the head of strategic infrastructure,” states the planning officer in his report.

“It is not expected that 150 pupils will result in the same number of car trips, there are a significant number of pupils that will arrive by bus/coach, some local pupils will walk and some will cycle.

“Additionally, no car trips will have single occupancy and a number of pupils may arrive at school using one vehicle.

“Taking these factors into account, it is not considered that the additional 150 pupils will have an adverse impact on the local highway network, it is recognised that there will be some increase in on-street parking but it will not lead to severe difficulties.”

On a separate issue, Sport England objected to the scheme regarding the loss of sports play space.

But the planning officer’s report states the school has submitted a response and ‘Sport England are now largely satisfied with the proposal’.

Councillors on Wednesday are being asked to delegate the application to the head of planning and the chair of southern planning committee for approval when the Sport England issues are addressed.

The southern planning committee meeting takes place at 10am on Wednesday, August 3, at Crewe Municipal Buildings.