PLANS for a giant multi-storey car park which would tower above a Southampton school have come under fire from residents who fear it will bring increased traffic pollution and congestion.

The proposed four-deck car park for 714 vehicles would loom above Swaythling Primary School.

Critics of the controversial application, by the University of Southampton, to build on its existing Hampton Car Park, claim the scheme runs counter to the city’s Green Charter, which aims to reduce air pollution and deter car use.

Others believe it will attract more traffic to the area around the school causing congestion.

Liz Batten, a founder of Clean Air Southampton, said the application was “old-fashioned thinking at a time when most cities are trying to find ways to reduce the amount of traffic”.

Councillor Spiros Vassiliou, who represents Swaythling on the city council, said: “We have to ensure our children are always safe so there are some real concerns from residents about the height of the building overlooking the school. It may be better for the university to consider constructing the car park under ground rather than higher in order to alleviate this concern.”

He added: “It is a real bottleneck between Burgess Road and Broadlands Road so my concern is with the increase of traffic coming into the area.”

A university spokesperson said the application would “relocate existing surface car parking to enable future developments on the north east corner of our Highfield Campus”.

John Draper, headteacher at Swaythling Primary, declined to comment on the application but Dr Nick Gibbins, a school governor, said: “We have been made aware of the proposed development and have already raised a number of concerns directly with the university.”

He added the school had highlighted the proposals and the consultation website to parents and would be making a formal response to the council.

Chris Buckle, a 35-year-old who lives on Mayfield Road, said: “I am very disappointed that the university is prepared to sacrifice the health and wellbeing of school children just so people can have the convenience of parking cars instead of using alternate means of transport like park-and- ride, cycling or walking.”

Another Mayfield Road resident, Mary Burch, 71, said: “My main concern is for the children of the school. This is a built up area and we should not have a four-storey car park looking over the school and our homes. It is not on at all.”

Another resident added: “There is no consideration for residents. Our children would breathe in the air from the cars which could reduce their quality of life. We are talking about our future generation and we should be looking out for them, but we are not doing that.”

The public consultation on the scheme ends on April 12.