CONSULTATION – EXPANSION OF CHESWICK GREEN PRIMARY SCHOOL
The council is consulting on the proposal to expand Cheswick Green Primary School. I have provided the link to the consultation below and urge you to make your own representation if you have a view.
I will provide an explanation of the rationale behind the consultation and add my own views as to how I will respond to the consultation as a ward councilor.
The need for more school spaces in the general area have come about because of developments that include Cheswick Place and Blythe Valley Park (BVP). BVP was given permission for 750 new homes but no new school was identified as it is considered only developments of about 2000 new homes create the numbers of pupils to establish a new two form entry school (a through infants/junior school with two classes in each year group – 420 pupils). Schools with fewer pupils find it difficult to manage financially.
The developers, IM Properties, had to commit some £6m for the provision of school spaces (primary and secondary) through a Section 106 agreement. It is not the developers place to create schools, it is the local authority, but developers have to pay funds for extra school spaces that arise.
Once permission was given for development the local authority sought the views of local schools about expansion, and it is fair to say all local one form primary schools in the immediate area sought the required expansion. Cheswick Green Primary School however is the preferred choice, hence the consultation.
This does not itself mean all children from the new development have to attend Cheswick Green Primary School but provision must be made.
The options contained in the report to the Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills highlighted three available options:
· Make no change
· Expand an existing school
· Seek the provision of a new school
The full report can be viewed via this link: http://eservices.solihull.gov.uk/mgInternet/documents/s84869/Proposal%20to%20expand%20Cheswick%20Green%20Primary%20School.pdf
Issues needing to be addressed:
For the school to expand there are several issues I feel needing addressing by the local authority. I believe the main points are Traffic, Travel to and from school, Parking, School Playing field provision.
The distance between BVP and the school means pupils will be driven to and from school either by private motor car or public transport. Pupils will not be expected to walk to school via a narrow and unlit country lane – to even think so is preposterous. AS a keen cyclist I also wish for more pupils to cycle to school but the country lanes do not lend themselves to safe cycling throughout the year, especially in late autumn and winter.
Vehicle parking around our schools are problematic, not just in Solihull. There are already existing problems in and around Cheswick Way at school drop off/pick up times and additional traffic will only exacerbate the problem. Measures to address the existing and additional impact must be identified before the school does expand. These should include the identification and provision of car parking for school traffic or the creating of a safe drip off/pick up point. We can not rely on the existing access roads to cope and need to prepare to ensure a safe environment around the school.
Solihull Council has led the way nationally through the ‘School Streets Project’, where some local streets are out of bounds to school traffic at certain time of he day. This is a successful project and I suggest it would certainly require Foxglove Close and Badger Close to be included in the project once the school does expand. We should also examine the provision of restrictive parking on Cheswick Way, either side of the school entrance and plan for measures if parking is displaced to other parts of the village.
To dovetail with this proposal a ‘Park and Stride’ may be able to address both traffic and healthy lifestyle issues whereby an agreed parking place just outside the village may be arranged and pupils/parents/carers walk to the school. There are locations that could be considered for this scheme.
A safe environment around the school is essential and problems/risks through parking can not be overestimated.
When considering the impact on vehicle traffic in and around the school at drop off/pick up time it brings into question the need for provision of an effective and efficient school bus service to serve the school from the BVP homes. Such a service will have a positive impact on addressing highway safety and associated problems. The establishment of a ‘right turn’ from Creynolds Lane onto the main A34/Stratford Road took into consideration the requirement of public transport to and from the school within the Section 106 funding provision.
It is essential pupils have the requisite space to play, both hard surface and grassed.
It is also essential the school is supported throughout the process while school spaces increase to ensure all pupils needs are met.
How to respond:
You can find out more information and contribute to the consultation via this link: https://www.solihull.gov.uk/About-the-Council/Consultations/currentconsultations