A PETITION campaigning against the controversial Deer Park housing plan has almost 600 signatures.

Proposals tabled last year for the estate at Deer Park, Belah have raised a number of concerns amid fears of over-development and the impact on biodiversity.

At the meeting on October 9 councillors asked Cumbria County Council to prepare a report looking into the school provision north of the river.

The decision on whether to approve the 80-home development was subsequently delayed.

Carlisle City Council’s development control committee will again consider the plan today (Friday).

The report prepared by Cumbria County Council ahead of Friday’s meeting said the authority was “aware of the need to provide additional primary school places in the north of the city to mitigate the impact of housing development.”

It said the full impact would only be felt once developments have been completed and all houses were occupied.

The county council said all admission applications for reception places in north Carlisle from families living in the catchment area had been successful in the last five years.

“Whilst there is no current shortage of places, the county council still expects there would be a shortfall once developments progress to completion”, the report said.

The future of the Story Homes development at Crindledyke will also be a crucial piece in the jigsaw, with an agreement in place for a school to be built by the developer if certain criteria are met.

However, the county council says they are still waiting for the latest planning application to be submitted by the developer.

“The county council is not in a position to fund the shortfall, so until the issue of Crindledyke is resolved, the county council cannot provide firm detail on the solution it will pursue,” continued the report.

It says Morton Academy, Caldew, in Dalston, and William Howard in Brampton have all been identified for possible expansion, but they expect to be able to accommodate admissions for at least the next two intakes (in September 2021 and 2022) within the existing capacity.

The authority said it is “entirely supportive of sustainable housing development in Carlisle, and would not expect the issue of school place planning to impact on the decision”.

Helen Davison, Carlisle City Council’s only Green Party councillor, who has been campaigning to save Deer Park from development, said: “It makes me incredibly sad thinking of houses on that site and what will be lost in terms of the wellbeing of people who use it and the biodiversity of the space.”

Dr Davison says people have signed the petition from across the city. She said the housing development would break up the biodiversity between the Kingmoor Nature Reserve to the north of the site and Kingmoor Sidings Nature Reserve to the south.

She says that combined with the proposals for the Crindledyke estate, the development would have a devastating impact.

Dr Davison is also concerned questions surrounding school provision still remain.

"I just felt the letter didn't provide any reassurance about what is happening with school provision," she explained.

She also raised issues about whether children living in a house in Belah could be expected travel to Brampton to attend William Howard.

A spokeswoman for Gleeson Homes said: “On October 9th, the planning committee voted to defer making a decision until they received further clarity on the delivery of school places in the city.

“Gleeson look forward to the matter being brought back to the planning committee so this development can provide local, young keyworkers with a place to call home and to provide a much needed economic investment into the area during these times of uncertainty.”

To view the petition visit you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-deer-park-field?