Survey rules Hitchin school traffic places burden on roads

Samuel Lucas School

Samuel Lucas School - Credit: Archant

A COUNCIL which wants to double the size of a primary school will have to introduce a number of highway safety measures after an official survey outlined a series of problems in the area.

Herts County Council (HCC) wants to expand Samuel Lucas JMI School in Hitchin, and has submitted a planning application via agent Vincent and Gorbing.

But findings from a traffic survey, which are incorporated in a report submitted as part of the application, reveal there are already a number of problems in the residential areas surrounding the Gaping Lane school.

In the 81-page report, the company says: “Gaping Lane had little space for parked cars and during school start and finish times the area filled up with cars parking around the bell mouth, on zigzag keep clear lines and the entrance to the school.

“The access serving five flats adjacent to the signal-controlled crossing where Oughton Head Way meets Old Park Road and Bedford Road results in conflicts between pedestrian movements and cars, as cars emerging can only do so when the lights are green, which is the same time pedestrians are crossing behind the cars.

“Oughton Head Way is very heavily parked, which requires vehicles to stop when passing, and although cul-de-sacs further afield have more space for on-street parking, the narrow streets leading to these cul-de-sacs are not suitable for an increase in vehicles.”

Residents have maintained the school expansion is not suitable for the area, with traffic concerns among their worries.

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But the report says measures will be implemented to address the increase in traffic – estimated to eventually result in an additional 42 car trips to the school.

The measures include a “park and stride” scheme, which will open up the Lairage multi-storey car park in Bedford Road for parents dropping off and picking up their children.

They also include improvements to the access to the site, attempting to increase the number of people walking to school and incorporating enforced parking restrictions in nearby roads.

The planning application, which seeks permission for a two-storey 10 classroom block, hall, car parking, a playing field, and landscaping, is likely to be determined in June.

Neighbours are being consulted and other members of the public can also comment until the end of May.

A further application for a temporary mobile classroom to provide places during the construction phase has also been submitted.

It follows HCC Cabinet approval – subject to planning approval – for the school’s expansion in January, with plans to take in an additional reception class this September.

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