Road safety worries see plans for free school reassessed

GENE BRODIE reports on how residents’ concerns have forced developers to re-think their proposals a massive new selective school

No sooner has planning permission been granted for a selective school to move on to what was, until recently, Green Belt playing fields at Coombe Wood, than the school trust has unveiled its plans for the permanent buildings on the site.

The Folio Trust, which runs Wallington County Grammar School for Boys, has been handed a massive chunk of Croydon real estate for its new school

There was a poorly publicised, one-night-only consultation session at the nearby Beefeater restaurant last week which demonstrated the huge scale of the school and the hefty chunk of real estate which has been handed to the free school trust, Folio.

Folio, which was set up by a Sutton-based grammar school, says that when Coombe Wood School is fully open it will have eight forms of entry, providing 1,680 pupil places, including a sixth form of up to 480 pupils. This, in a borough which has a surplus of 5,000 secondary school places.

The consultation session will be followed swiftly by an application for planning permission, as the trust has no desire for its over-subscribed Year 7 to have to spend too long learning their 3Rs in temporary buildings.

Discussions around last week’s consultation session suggested a major scene shift in road safety thinking compared with two weeks earlier, when Paul Scott, the chair, and the rest of the council’s planning committee were first shown a permanent school plan before debating and granting immediate approval for the temporary buildings, which are due to open opposite Lloyd Park this September.

The accident hot sports along Coombe Road, close to where the new school is to be built. They include two fatalities in the past 19 years

The consultation session was attended by architects, a deputy head, builders, transport consultants and logistics experts, and they all emphasised that children’s safety travelling to and from the school was their highest priority.

Well they would say that, wouldn’t they?

But one source at the meeting admitted that they are reassessing completely the previously discussed road crossing arrangements for the temporary school, as they were clearly not fit for purpose.

The source gave a verbal assurance that the plan for Melville Avenue to be partly one-way with an uncontrolled raised pedestrian crossing had been dropped and a more permanent solution was being worked on which would also meet future needs.

The consultation meeting had plenty of models to show of 1,600-pupil Coombe Wood School

Subject to planning permission, the permanent school will be built in two phases, with the first starting this autumn (did we mention that they are keen to rush this through?). The cost of the build overall is expected to be £30million.

The Melville Avenue access gate will be used for the first couple of months to enable construction vehicles and materials to reach the top of the site. There, they will first construct the car park area with its two in/out accesses into Coombe Road. From then on, all vehicles will use those entrances into the site to deliver building supplies.

Once stage one is completed in September 2019, the temporary school will be removed and access from the Melville Avenue gate will only be used for service vehicles such as refuse and school deliveries.

Much of what was Green Belt playing fields is being turned into… a massive school car park next to Coombe Road

Among the additional highways improvements being considered are proper light-controlled crossings and a new pavement running alongside Coombe Road on the same side as the school, to improve the safety of pedestrian pupils heading there from Melville Avenue.

Many residents voiced concerns over the current speed of the vehicles travelling along Coombe Road, particularly those heading towards Croydon, and they favoured an additional speed camera to deal with this, rather than just flashing indicator signs, as highways monitoring had shown speeds clearly in excess of the 30mph limit.

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8 Responses to Road safety worries see plans for free school reassessed

  1. derekthrower says:

    The rushed and ill-considered nature of this proposed school is revealed by the completely inadequate transport and access plans provided at this so called consultation. Apparently all access was to made via the current parkgate in Melville Avenue.

    Now another set of plans are presented with undue haste. It seems to be that they are worried that the money simply won’t be around if they have to actually consider the merits of this application appropriately. This all looks like another sorry tale for the LB of Croydon to endure. Act in haste. Repent and close down facilities at leisure.

  2. mikebweb says:

    It seems unbelievable that professional planners, Clr Scott and his merry mates can approve a scheme which residents have subsequently clearly demonstrated, puts the life of future school pupils in danger. What are these professionals qualified to do if they cannot design safe entry to the site?
    ANY entrance to the school from the narrow Coombe Lane is going to cause conjestion and most likely subsequent accidents – It amounts to one large accident zone awaiting for the first accident to happen – hopefully not with a pupil involved.
    The creation of a new light controlled road junction in Conduit Lane, giving entrance through the presently disused former council greenhouses would provide a much safer solution, with a bridge across Coombe Lane from Lloyd Park for pupils to use – yes and a pedestrian only entry from Melville Avenue, thus ensuring that no pupil has to undergo the gauntlet of Coombe Lane. Perhaps there is one other solution – site the new school, if one is really needed, elsewhere.
    I trust nobody is going to vote this lot back into “power” again in May!

  3. Lewis White says:

    Setting aside any discussion on Green belt, Grammar schools, design and adequacy of transport for pupils, I would be grateful to know if the Council own this site, and if so, are they going to merely give it away to the school ? I hope that it would be on a 50 year lease, not a freehold transfer.

    I understand that the remaining land from the old Heath Clark school site–a very large and valuable chunk of real estate, i there ever was one in modern Croydon, belongs not to Croydon Council, the Education Authority, but to Croydon College.

    The giving away of public assets that one day magically become private asset is a scandal , across the UK.

  4. Pingback: Road safety worries see plans for free school reassessed – The DriveSafe News

  5. Peter Hanson says:

    Observing the presentation of this school to Croydon Planning Committee was worrying. We witnessed a ‘perfect storm’ of a partisan and largely inept planning committee meeting a design and build ‘hash of a design’ proposal which has been pushed through in months.

    The UK has a great modernist tradition of excellent school buildings that contribute to communities and more importantly inspire its occupants. I do not see any of this in the lacklustre proposals being put forward. Bland, generalist formalism meets out-of-town office.

    It’s accepted these is a crisis regarding school provision in this country and some say in Croydin too (though I’m not entirely sure), however, this cannot be used as an excuse for mediocre client patronage, mediocre architectural design and most importantly, mediocre Planning review.

    Is Croydon saying the design being proposed has been put past their Top Gun Place Review Panel???

    • derekthrower says:

      It really is a rubbish prefab design for such a striking location. The other thing that struck me was how they loaded the development so closely to Coombe Road and the small amount of amenity space between the road and the school. They don’t appear to be overly concerned about the road pollution created by the heavily congested traffic along this location during the rush hours.

  6. derekthrower says:

    See the magic money tree is being shaken again. Who can pay for a midnight road survery of the junction of Coombe & Melville Road by “Sumo Survey Services” using the whole gamut of underground radar technology. Another survey had been undertaken just a few months ago. More markings being placed in the road. It would be nice to know the input of TFL regarding the disruption of this busy commuter route.

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