Parking ‘nightmare’ at Hitchin school

Lairage Car Park

Lairage Car Park - Credit: Archant

The parking situation at an expanding school has been described as a nightmare since a town centre car park partially closed due to “structural issues”.

The top floor of the Lairage multi-storey car park – meant to be used by parents dropping and picking up their children at Samuel Lucas JMI School in Hitchin while renovation work is carried out – has been fenced off for more than a month.

John Robinson, strategic director customer services at North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC) – which own the car park – said at Tuesday’s Hitchin Town Talk that the car park in Bedford Road had been closed due to “structural issues”.

The expansion, which will double the school’s capacity, was given the go-ahead on the condition adequate parking would be provided at the multi-storey car park, which is a short walk from the school in Gaping Lane.

It was also agreed that 50 parking permits for the top level of the car park would be issued to parents before the school term, but so far only seven parking permits have been issued by Hertfordshire County Council (HCC).

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Prior to its approval by HCC in June, the expansion was widely opposed by nearby residents amid fears the site would not cope with the influx, citing concerns over road safety, costs, parking, and loss of allotments and public space.

Michelle Day, whose son goes to the school, said: “Every morning it is a nightmare to find parking near the school. We can’t park outside the school because that has been coned off for workman and deliveries. But I have been told that deliveries take place after 9.30am, so why has it been coned off during drop-off times?

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“The arrangement is causing major delays and the children’s safety is not being thought about at all.”

A spokesman for HCC said: “The area of zig zags at the front of the school is not suitable for parking as it presents a safety risk for children, parents and other visitors to the school. It has been coned off on a temporary basis to ensure safety in peak periods and to allow access for construction vehicles to the site while building works are underway.

“We have an agreement in place with NHDC to use the top floor of the Lairage multi-storey car park in accordance with the planning condition, but it is the responsibility of NHDC to make sure that the space is available for use by parents.”

Cllr Tom Brindley, portfolio holder for planning transport and enterprise at NHDC, said the top floor has been closed as a “precautionary measure while further survey work is carried out”.

He added that parents with a parking permit for the top floor can park on any other floor in the meantime.

The school expansion, which includes a number of new buildings and a playing field, will accommodate 192 students.

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