Wednesday 9 March 2016

'Park and Stride' won't mitigate congestion at expanded Byron Court Primary school

This is one of the speeches delivered at tonight's Planning Committee on the application to expand Byron Court Primary School. The Commiittee later approved the application with some issues regarding potential conditions, raised this afternoon  in an email by Cllr Perrin, and later in his speech to the Committee, to be followed up by Officers. Several members of the Committeee said they had received phone calls from Barry Gardiner MP about the application.

My name is Suzanne D’Souza.  I am the Chair of the Sudbury Court Residents’ Association.  I am here today representing the 1500 residents who object to the expansion of Byron Court School.

We understand that the Council have an obligation to provide schools places.  However, the Council also have an obligation to protect residents from overdevelopment.  And building one of the largest primary schools in the country, in the middle of a residential estate, accessible only by narrow roads, is an overdevelopment.

There are many reasons we object to this proposal, but as I only have 2 minutes I will focus on transport.  

The school currently has 3 forms of entry and the traffic problems at school run times are significant.  Brent Council’s own Transportation Officers visited the school and confirmed this.  

The Officers’ view is that the parking and traffic flow issues on these residential streets is a major concern for pupils and pedestrian safety.  Their observations confirm current unacceptable and unsafe conditions on Spencer Road, and surrounding streets.

Over many years, the school have tried, and failed, to solve the problems.  Our local police team have tried, Council Officers have tried, and our local Councillors have tried.  All attempts at solving the traffic problems have failed.  

This is at 3 form entry.  Now imagine we almost double the size of the school and bring in children from further away so their parents are forced to travel by car.  This isn’t just a logistics problem, it’s a health and safety problem.  It is dangerous.  

Brent Council’s own Transportation Officers have acknowledged that there are serious safety problems at present, which will only be exacerbated with the conversion of the school from 3FE to 5FE, and the Travel Plan submitted was considered seriously inadequate.

The Officers go on to say the use of a Park and Stride scheme based on the Northwick Park Car Park would mitigate the negative impact of congestion.  This is described as an essential factor to support the school expansion.

However, the report states that the recent trial of this had a low take-up.  Despite senior school staff campaigning for parents to use Northwick Park car park for park and stride over recent weeks, very few parents have complied. 

This begs the question then, how this, the apparent key to the acceptability of the scheme in highway terms, is to be enforced?

There are a great many reasons why the use of Northwick Park Car park for Park and Stride will not work.  Cllr Perrin will take you through the detail of this.  All I have time to say is that if Brent Council Transportation Officers have said this is an essential factor to support the school expansion, and we know that it cannot work, then the logical conclusion is that this expansion is not feasible and, from a Planning perspective, cannot go ahead.

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