PARENTS, council chiefs and school managers are urging planning bosses to refuse controversial plans for a car wash next to a special needs school ahead of a decision tonight.

Rise@GHC looks after more than 40 children with special educational needs and is based next to the proposed site on Eastern Road, which is currently empty.

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Bracknell News:

Parents and residents in flats opposite the site have been campaigning against the proposal for more than ten months but councillors are set to give the plans the go-ahead at a meeting tonight (Thursday, November 14).

More than 150 objections have been sent to Bracknell Forest Council (BFC) and before the committee meets, several parents told the News about their fears should the plans be approved.

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Charlotte Young said: “It’s about the sensory side of things – additional traffic in an area close to the school is not going to help. I can’t see any positives.

“Coming to school is quite a stressful thing, with everything else going on I don’t think it’s going to improve their start to the day.”

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Another parent, who did not wish to be named, added: “I don’t know how the children are going to cope – it is going to be terrible.

“This school has everything for their needs

“It is hard enough getting them here in the morning.”

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WBM acoustic consultants, the group commissioned by the applicants to undertake noise inspections at the site, conducted an impact assessment in May 2019.

From the inspector’s findings, a BFC planning officer determined “unacceptable levels of noise” would not be a problem for the school’s children as a boundary wall and a car park are between the sites.

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Despite a WBM noise report suggesting there is adequate screening, measurements show the car wash’s boundary wall is sloped and at its lowest point is 1.5 metres high.

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The back section of the playground, which is opposite the car wash site and where children can use a bench to play games, is raised to 1.1 metres high from the car park – meaning there is a screening of just 40 centimetres at this point.

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WBM’s tests at recommended jet wash pressure levels suggested 41 decibels would be produced from all car washing operations – three decibels less than the apparent background noise level.

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But the News has seen new comparative analysis said to be from Venta Acoustics, the group hired by the Quarters Resident Association for the flats opposite the site.

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Venta reportedly found the cumulative rating level was actually 53 decibels at the flats and 59 decibels at Rise@GHC – 9 and 15 decibels above background level respectively.

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These differences break British Standard 4142 as the gulf in noise would have a “significant adverse impact” on those nearby.

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A spokesperson for The Quarters Residents Association said: “We can go on and on about technical shortcomings, but somehow the applicant has convinced by desktop review that by reducing pressures to 70/80 bar (a typical garden hose) the sound reduces and also to have a viable business.

“We can tell categorically that if the right calculations from equipment, number of cars per hour and if used with robust assumptions this proposal fails BS 4142 standards of having significant adverse impact to residents, let alone vulnerable special needs children.”

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BFC’s report also claims the noise levels would not be unacceptable as children primarily use the section of the playground to the rear of the school – but when using the classroom directly opposite the car wash site, high-reaching windows are often left open for ventilation.

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Education properties boss at Bracknell Forest Council, Chris Taylor, has objected to the plans as he claimed it “has not been demonstrated that the occupants of the Rise@GHC are not being adversely affected by the noise from this development.”

Rise@GHC bosses added their opposition to the plans, sending an objection to BFC which read: “We are also concerned about noise. Rise@GHC is an immediate neighbour and our outdoor learning area is well used by our pupils.

“Rise@GHC is a specialist SEN facility providing personalised learning, care and support to pupils with autistic spectrum conditions.

“Typically, pupils attending Rise@GHC are more sensitive to noise and we fear that the noise will have a detrimental on our pupils.”

The school’s objection also included ‘grave concerns’ about the potential increase in traffic on Eastern Road.

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It read: “We already have concerns regarding the traffic and parking along Eastern Road which is putting pupils at risk at times of pupil drop-off and pick-up.

“Property development in Eastern Road since the College first occupied the site in September 2015 has made matters worse.

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“Staff and parents of Rise@GHC pupils are gravely concerned for the safety of our pupils. The above development will inevitably attract more vehicles to Eastern Road, increasing traffic and adding to the existing problem and further compromising our pupils’ safety.

“The inconsiderate and illegal parking of vehicles is already a problem on this road and we are worried that the proposed development will only add to the problem at a time when the relevant authorities need to be considering solutions to this problem.”

Bracknell News:

These concerns were echoed by another parent who told the News about her experience of cars coming down Eastern Road.

Fran Griffin added: “Nobody understands what the children’s difficulties are like and having a car wash around here is going to stress them out. Just getting them home is a nightmare.

“There are always cars coming fast down here and it’s just going to get worse.

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“They don’t even know the school’s here. There’s no speed bumps down here, nobody cares.”

BFC’s planning bosses are set to approve the plans at a meeting tonight.