Swindon Council’s planning committee will consider proposals to build a new 420 places primary school on the Croft site on Tuesday 29 November, 6pm, at the Civic Offices, Euclid Street, Swindon.
Campaigners in Old Town have been putting up stiff resistance to the application, claiming it is not required, that the council has not defined a catchment area and the increase in traffic volume in and around the Croft site is going to be huge.
Old Town resident Kareen Boyd said: "We believe that this proposal is irresponsible and dangerous for all. The images here were taken at a weekend football tournament on the pitches at Croft Sports Centre, adjacent to the school site. The school will generate about four times the amount of traffic twice a day.
"We hope that the Planning Committee will share the same view and use their position to reject this proposal."
Search http://184.108.40.206/PublicAccess77/tdc/DcApplication/application_searchform.aspx for application
Statement about the proposed primary school on the Croft site from Anne Snelgrove – 30 October 2011
Decisions on where to site new schools in established communities are usually contentious, so it is vital that local authority officers and councillors make their case as openly and calmly as possible, presenting the full facts upon which they have based their decisions to local people. I have been very disappointed that the consultation on the Croft School proposals has not secured the confidence of the local community, and that legitimate questions have repeatedly been asked but not answered.
Having been a teacher, Education Adviser, Vice-Chair of a County Council Education Committee and experienced in very difficult school reorganisations, I know that excellent communication and sensitivity to people’s concerns when opening or closing schools is essential.
In the case of the Croft School consultation, I am not persuaded that there is a need for a new school in that part of the Swindon for the following reasons:
· The projected numbers of children in the Croft area are insufficient for a new school and whilst there is a need for at least one extra school this is in the Central area of the town, nowhere near the Croft site;
· The access to the proposed school is unsafe, via unadopted Marlborough Lane and next to the main delivery area for the Marriot Hotel; to expect 420 children to arrive and depart safely along this road is irresponsible and alternate access points such as Croft Road are at least as bad;
· The impact on the local area of the daily movement of parents and staff will be considerable and detrimental to the community, particularly parking on already over crowded roads and the proposed restriction of traffic into and out of the community via a height-restricted bridge.
In addition, I am unconvinced of the validity of Swindon Borough Council’s consultation and planning process to date, as most of the concerns and queries raised by the community have not been addressed. The case has not been made for a new school and the council has only just found a replacement bidder to run a school on this site after it and the Church of England were found unsuitable under the new rules introduced by the Government.
Croft was not identified on the authority’s 2011 local plan as a future school site but it is designated as an existing Strategic Green Corridor (ENV20). Development of these corridors is strictly regulated by the council, as can be seen from the relevant paragraphs in the Local Plan:
‘3.23 Existing Strategic Green Corridors
To protect and enhance important linear open spaces within the Borough, development in existing strategic green corridors, as defined on the Proposals Map, shall only be permitted where:
a) it does not adversely affect the physical continuity or integrity of the corridor; and
b) it does not adversely affect linear features of ecological, historical or landscape value present within a corridor; and
c) it serves to promote movement by nonmotorised modes of transport, maximising linkages into the existing network, or constitutes essential highway or public transport improvements, as identified in the adopted Local Transport Plan.’
The entire Local Plan may be found via this link: http://www.swindon.gov.uk/ep/ep-planning/ep-planning-localdev/Documents/localplan-fulldocument.pdf
It appears the council is breaking its own rules in seeking to develop the Croft site.
Finally, I have been concerned about how local people have described their treatment by councillors. I would expect councillors from all parties to treat members of the public with respect and courtesy, to listen to concerns and act upon them, even if the councillors disagree or are unable to change the council’s course of action.
Right, a letter from Robert Buckland MP regarding the proposed new primary school at Croft.