OUTRAGED residents have pledged to fight controversial plans to build 820 new houses next to two Pontefract primary schools.
Angry community members say extra traffic from the proposed development would put the lives of pupils at the town’s Cobblers Lane and Holy Family and St Michael’s Schools in danger.
Property developers Gladman are due to submit a planning application for the 350-home first phase of the development within the next few weeks.
Melville Todd, chairman of the Friends of Cobblers Lane group, said: “It’s appalling this site has been considered for housing when it is right next to two schools.
“There is a traffic jam on Cobblers Lane every day now, and new houses would cause even more traffic congestion and be a serious safety risk for pupils crossing the road.
“The surrounding roads and bridges could not cope with all the construction vehicles that would have to plough into our town, not to mention the added pollution this will cause. These plans will also destroy the fields and all the wildlife in the area and make us live in a concrete jungle.
“We are collecting donations at the moment for postage and materials so we can make our own leaflets and make our voices heard when the plans go to consultation.”
The group sent more than 120 letters of objection to the developers after the company’s representatives handed out leaflets across Pontefract in April and a public consultation meeting was held at Cobblers Lane Primary School last month.
Tim Dean, Gladman’s planning and development manager, said: “While we know proposals for change often raise concerns for nearby residents, this site has been identified by the council as one of the locations where the housing needs of the community will be met.
“We have received a number of comments and the feedback we have received has reflected the communities concerns and has also been constructive.
“It has been extremely useful at helping to shape the development and many of the issues raised have been taken into account.”
Wakefield Council considered the Cobblers Lane site – which is owned by various private landowners – in its 2003 local development framework document. The former Prince of Wales Colliery site in Pontefract is another of the sites identified for housing.
Ian Thomson, the council’s service director for planning, transportation and highways, said: “A government planning inspector has examined the document and has found the development sites to be appropriate and sustainable.
“The document was subject to a public consultation before it was submitted to government. If adopted, the document establishes the principle of housing development it does not grant planning permission.
“Providing new homes and jobs in the district is a council priority and is looking to create 20,500 new homes by 2022 to meet the housing needs in the district.”