Fears are growing that schoolchildren will ‘dance with death’ if a 100-year-old canalside pub is knocked down to make way for a house.
Pupils would be forced to walk to school down a dangerous narrow lane used by speeding cars if plans get the go-ahead, say campaigners.
Now protesters have set up a petition calling for the Packet Boat Hotel car park – used by kids and parents as a safer route to school for more than 40 years – to be made a designated right of way.
They are worried that gates will permanently block the public’s access to the car park if a new four-bedroomed house with private garden is built on the site of the closed-down Bolton-le-Sands pub.
A barrier has already gone up to stop people from using the car park.
A resident said: “Every school morning there is a dance with death between children and parents walking to school and the many cars.
“Things have always been bad but now they are literally at risk of becoming a death zone.
“Something has to be done urgently before a child is seriously hurt or killed.”
Lancaster City Council has received 44 letters from the public about the plans.
The majority are objecting to them because the car park will no longer be accessible or because of worries over a build-up of traffic on nearby Packet Lane.
One parent wrote: “There is a high volume of cars and pedestrians during school drop off and pick up.
“Unfortunately, the lane adjacent to the Packet Boat is the only access to not only the primary school but the nursery, community centre, scout club, playground, bowls club and the community centre.”
Tim Cross, head teacher of Bolton-le-Sands CE Primary School, which has 300 pupils, has also objected.
Mr Cross said: “I have no view on whether the pub should become a house and no axe to grind on that.
“My sole concern is for the safety of children and parents.
“The car park was never ideal and there have been near-misses.
“But changing the use of the boundary means that Packet Lane becomes hazardous because there’s only one way in and one way out.
“It will cause complete congestion and have a knock-on effect through the village. At peak times it’s really bad in Bolton-le-Sands.”
Sophie Elder, who has two children at the primary school, said: “If you have younger children and push a pram, you can’t get down that road. It’s a major safety hazard.
“But the school has been opening at 8.30am this term and I’ve been dropping my kids off then. I haven’t seen any problems as yet.”
Others have written to the council to support the plans.
A resident wrote: “In view of the fact that this property has been closed for some time, boarded up to prevent damage and was obviously making a loss as a business, it makes logical sense to bring this building back to life and allow forward thinking individuals to make it a much loved home.”
Architect Michael Harrison, agent for the applicant Mrs Adelle Stretch, said: “There is a public belief that there is a right to pass over the car park but the land was owned by (Thwaites) brewery. The pub has ceased function and was offered for sale.”
The city council will discuss the plans later this year.