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Winchester residents fear more congestion if primary school takes more pupils
3:16pm Wednesday 28th November 2012 in Education
THEY say it can take up to an hour to leave their street when traffic is heavy.
But residents in Oliver’s Battery claim their problems could become even worse if St Peter’s Catholic Primary School is expanded.
The school is set to increase pupil numbers from 315 to 420 in county council proposals to address a Hampshire-wide places shortfall.
Residents in Oliver’s Battery Road North and Fairfax Close argue this will increase traffic congestion.
Stanley Jackson, of Oliver’s Battery Road North, said: “We all appreciate there’s a shortage of places and something has to be done about that. But our problem is the Roman Catholic school has parents driving from across the county and there’s a heck of a lot of vehicles driving down our very narrow road.
“The vast majority of residents agree on this. It can take almost an hour to get out of the road and there are nearly 60 cars down here. It’s a disaster.”
Mr Jackson, 63, retired chartered accountant, said he spoke to the school and the county council at a recent consultation but was pessimistic about the residents’ chances of reducing the traffic.
He said: “I felt our concerns fell on deaf ears. No one here objects to the school expanding but the council’s priority should be looking elsewhere to meet the need.
“We try to have a good relationship with the school as we all live in one community. They do try to mitigate the problem by operating school buses and encouraging parents to park in Ridgeway or Kilham Lane but it only scratches the surface.”
But Sue Broadbent, chairman of governors at St Peter’s, said the school was working with both city and county councils to resolve problems.
She said the school was discussing four plans to reduce traffic – redesigning the junction of Oliver’s Battery Road North and Stanmore Lane, building a pedestrian path to the school from the planned park and ride at Pitt Manor, increasing the number of school mini buses and encouraging parents to use other car parks like Badger Farm Sainsbury’s.
She said: “Nobody using this road is happy with how things are at the moment. It’s important we agree what we want improved together with residents because that helps our arguments and we are very optimistic that these things will make quite the difference to all of our lives.”
Councillor Roy Perry, Hampshire County Council's Executive Lead member for Children's Services said: "The issue of traffic management was discussed at an information evening held at St Peter's school last week and we do understand the concerns residents have and will seek to address them.
"This is a problem common to many schools in the county and I know all schools impress upon parents the need to be considerate and mindful of the needs of residents when parking and dropping their children off or picking their children up from school.
"County transport officers are already looking at measures which will help to mitigate against the impact of parents dropping off and picking up pupils at the start and end of the school day which residents living near to St Peter's school experience.
"As part of the Pitt Manor housing development there is to be a 200-place park and ride car park and a new signal crossing on Romsey Rd, opposite St. Peter's School playing field. The school are keen to provide a path over their field and a new gate from their playing field to link into the new signal crossing. Winchester City Council will, subject to agreement, manage the Park and Ride car park as part of the overall park and ride service and will consider how the car park could be used by parents driving their children to St Peter's as a short stay, informal park and walk facility.
"It is hoped that this, together with planned work on the Stanmore Lane/Romsey Road junction which aims to offer a two lane exit turning left and right instead of the single lane at present, and the plans by the school to increase the capacity of the mini buses system which they run, will not only mitigate the impact of the proposed enlargement of the school but will also alleviate some of the present traffic flow issues."