Trees to be sacrificed to ease Sharnbrook School traffic build-up

Bedford Borough Planning Committee

Four mature trees – and possibly a fifth – are to be sacrificed to the needs of parents driving their children to and from a school.

Sharnbrook Upper School and Community College has been given permission to get rid of the grass chicanes that regularly cause traffic to build up along School Approach when parents drop off and pick up their children.

A meeting at Bedford Borough Council was told that staff have tried other ways of stopping traffic from backing up into Odell Road but with no luck. These have included the removal of access control rising barriers, bollards and islands.

The school is also planning to plant 105 trees on the school site to more than offset the loss of two sycamores, one hornbeam, and a common ash.

A fifth tree, a sycamore, might also have to go under the axe if road surfacing gets too close to its roots, the planning committee heard.

Planning officers told Mondays committee meeting that the loss of the trees was “balanced by the benefits” of reducing congestion, and the 105 new Woodland Trust trees at the school.

That did not stop an objector protesting at the loss of trees, and also expressing concern that the removal of the chicanes would encourage speeding.

Planning officer Jonathan Warner, in his report to the committee, said, “The loss of any tree in lieu of development is regrettable and needs to be balanced against the benefits of the scheme overall.

“However, if in the planning balance the loss of any tree is justified then proposals should not be resisted and certainly should not be prevented from proceeding by other means such as imposing a Tree Preservation Order (TPO).

“On this particular matter the request by the third party objector for the council to impose a TPO on the row of Sycamore trees is not considered to be appropriate or necessary in this instance.”

Cllr Martin Towler (Cons, Riseley) picked up on fears about speeding traffic but was told that speed bumps would remain on the approach road.

by Local Democracy Reporter, David Tooley

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