UPLYME could lose its filling station, shop and post office if plans for the village’s proposed new primary school go ahead.
Outline planning permission for the £4million school has been granted by East Devon District Council showing one in and out entrance from the site, adjacent to the village hall, onto the main road through Uplyme, together with a pedestrian crossing.
Whilst supporting the new school project, Uplyme Parish Council has objected to the plans over traffic issues and are currently in discussion with Devon County Council’s highways department and the trust which runs the school to find a solution.
There are fears that traffic will build up on the main road outside Uplyme Filling Station, contravening safety regulations.
David Ostler, a parish councillor and owner of the filling station site, has taken advice from the Petrol Retailers Association who have confirmed that such a situation would be “hazardous”.
Mr Ostler, who said he has not been involved in any parish council discussion because he has a vested interest, has made it clear that if the plans are not changed to include a separate entrance and exit, he will be forced to close down the site.
“It would be a very big blow to the village and beyond, but if anything went wrong I would be responsible and I am not prepared to take that risk,” he said.
Concerns over access only
The concerns were discussed at last week’s meeting of Uplyme Parish Council after which the chairman, Chris James, issued the following statement: “It has become apparent that there is significant misunderstanding concerning the parish council’s position in regard to the detailed planning application for the new school. Support for building the new school is a completely separate issue from concerns raised during the planning process.
“The reservations of the planning committee relate to the design of the building, to movement of vehicles entering and leaving the site and the plan for parking. Building design is covered in an annex to the Neighbourhood Plan and will be easily resolved.
“The reservations relating to the safety of the proposed traffic system include possible effects to the traffic flow on Lyme Road. The current plan may also adversely affect the garage, in respect of the statutory requirement for evacuation protocols used in an emergency.
“The parish council is in discussion with the Bestic Trust and Devon County Council’s highways department in an attempt to resolve the traffic issues and we believe that a satisfactory solution is possible. Currently, a one-way system through the new school grounds is the preferred option.
“I can state unequivocally that no parish councillor objects to building the new school. The school building project is also supported within the Uplyme Neighbourhood Plan, which has statutory authority.”
The new school, described as having a striking 21st century design, will accommodate 210 children, 25 more than the capacity of the present school, which has occupied its current site in Pound Lane since 1854.
A statement was also issued this week by Martin Whitehead, chairman of the Bestic Trust, which overseas the running of the school.
Mr Whitehead said: “The Bestic Trust is aware of the concerns of the parish council with regard to access arrangements for the new school building and the formal complaint made by David Ostler (owner of Uplyme Filling Station) posted on the East Devon Planning portal.
“The access and parking arrangements for the new school site were determined by East Devon District Council by the granting of outline planning permission in 2013 (the outcome from the application made in 2012) and consequently those matters are not under consideration as part of the current reserved matters application 19/2197/MRES.
“The concerns about the approved access arrangements first arose in 2016 when the outline planning consent was renewed. David Ostler, supported by the parish council, sought to object to the access arrangements and submitted evidence in the form of a report produced by consultant Hydrock. That objection was considered and a traffic survey was conducted by Devon County highways. The outline planning consent was renewed without change.
“Construction of new school premises in the village is recognised in the Uplyme Village Plan and is essential to the Bestic Trust in order to maintain its charitable objectives, the pursuit of the reserved matters application at this time is made entirely without prejudice.
“It is recognised that the concerns raised warrant consideration in the best interest of the whole community, to which end The Bestic Trust has commissioned consultants AWP to look at the viability of forming alternative access arrangements that would satisfy all parties.
“The trust is working proactively with both the parish council and David Ostler to find a solution that could be submitted as an amendment to the current approval.”