RESIDENTS have raised concerns over traffic and road safety as a consultation into the relocation of a special needs school in Bridgend continues.
Bridgend County Borough Council (BCBC) is seeking residents’ views on its plans to relocate Heronsbridge School, currently on Ewenny Road, to Island Farm along the A48.
The consultation period closes on May 18.
Residents say the move from the current building, which dates back to 1929, to a more modern site is much needed.
However, concerns remain over a potential increase in traffic along the A48 and the dangers this could pose to children travelling to and from school.
“I definitely think that in the grand scheme of things that it is a huge positive,” said Jonathan Lewis, whose wife works at the school.
“The current school is a listed building. I have been around it several times and I have seen first hand how they struggle with the use of wheelchairs and [access].
“There’s a section upstairs where two wheelchairs can’t even pass each other [if] they were coming opposite ways along the corridor. It’s completely impractical.”
However, as a resident, 32-year-old Jonathan added he could understand the concerns some people might have around a potential increase in traffic along the A48 and Ewenny roundabout.
The development at Island Farm would see an increase in pupil provision at Heronsbridge School to 300.
“[At] Ewenny roundabout it is quite a heavy traffic point for people coming in and out of Bridgend and I can understand how concerns over traffic flow there would be the biggest issue.
“However, I did see in the [planning] report that they would look at highway plans before proceeding with any works.
“Because it is in the rural outskirts of the town, footpaths are quite small, old, bare and narrow. I think there would be concerns there if children are coming in on foot or by bike.
“Some staff might consider cycling or walking and they have got to face the risks themselves.”
An employee at Severn Trent Water on the industrial estate near Island Farm, Jonathan said he knows how much traffic can build up in the area.
”I finish work at 3pm, which can be the time that school finishes and I often have to queue to get out of the industrial estate just because [of] the traffic.
“You are talking about 40-50 cars sometimes in the summer. If you have got seven minibuses leaving, plus parents picking up their children and other private transport vehicles, you could really have a pinch point.”
Charlotte Hickles, who is related to staff at Heronsbridge School and has family living near to the proposed site, said she thinks a change is needed.
“My thoughts are [that] the [updated] school is very much needed.
“They have children with all types [of] needs [who require] specialist equipment.
“A purpose-built school can take more kids with special needs, can add different therapy to [their] education and [provide a] better quality of life.
“People will argue that where they want to put it is not a great place. It’s not too far from [where] the school is based right now. So, [for] kids who need the structure of [a] daily routine, it will not be detrimental to them.
“Look at the special needs school in Penarth to see how amazing a purpose-built school is and how much it makes everyone’s [lives] better. Staff, and kids.”
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