CONTROVERSIAL plans to build homes on the site of the former Rodford Primary School in Yate are being debated today.

The much loved school was closed in 2010, despite a campaign by parents to save it for future generations of children.

But falling pupil numbers were behind the decision to close the doors for good, bringing to an end 40 years of history.

Parents claimed proposed housing in the town would increase demand for places. But South Gloucestershire Council said there had been no significant increase in births in Yate in recent years and it had to take action.

Ahead of the closure, there were only about 150 pupils in the school, despite there being places for nearly 380.

A year later, the buildings were demolished and now Bellway Homes wants to build 57 homes on the site in Barnwood Road.

They include 20 affordable homes and a block of nine flats, although the school playing field is unaffected by the proposal.

Yate Town Council has opposed the scheme, despite some revisions to the plan being made by Bellway.

Councillors said they had concerns about the layout and density of the houses, the proposed design, appearance and landscaping of the site and the loss of trees.

They said they also wanted an ancient hedgerow protected.

In a report going to today's development control east committee, a tree officer raised objections about the loss of protected trees but is expected to make further comments at the meeting as a result of a revised site plan being drawn up by Bellway.

A number of complaints have also been made by local residents.

In her report to the committee, planning officer Olivia Tresise said: "Officers acknowledge that local residents raise a number of objections to the proposal."

She said there were concerns about overlooking, overbearing, loss of sunlight and daylight and loss of views or outlook, with the main complaint relating to the distance between the proposed flats and existing homes in Hardwicke.

But she said the distance under the revised plan was 23 metres and no windows would be at first and second floor level on the south side of the flats.

She said: "Given the considerable distance, it is considered that the proposed apartment block would not cause

significant overlooking or overbearing impact upon the nearby residential occupiers."

Ms Tresise said the development would be high density but on balance it was considered to provide reasonable private space and distance between the homes and there should not be any significant overlooking or overbearing problems for occupiers.

If the scheme is approved, Bellway will be required to make several financial contributions, including nearly £14,000 towards library services and nearly £235,000 for outdoor sports facilities, allotments and facilities for children and young people.

But with South Gloucestershire Council still reporting projected surplus capacity at both primary and secondary schools in the area, the company will not have to make any contribution towards school places.

Today's meeting is being held in Kingswood Civic Centre at 3pm.