The Road for the Park School Site Scrapes Through the Planning Committee

The main “spine” road for the Park School Site was passed by Rochford District Council’s planning committee on August 26th – but only just.

Obviously there will have to be a road here to reach the school , sports centre , commercial uses and all those new houses. But Ron and Chris felt that the proposed road was too narrow (only 6m wide near the proposed school) and asked for the decision to be deferred to get some improvements.

It wasn’t only us who felt like this. Rawreth Parish Council strongly objected and their chairman Basil Osborn came along to the meeting to speak (ordinary residents can’t speak, but parish councils can make representations) The chairman of the governors at Rawreth School also objected.

What was peculiar was that County Highways didn’t object – even though one of their officers made the folllowing written comments:

“Having the school at the end of the road will undoubtedly cause short term parking problems particularly at collection times when parents tend arrive early and wait for their children to finish school. The turning area and the road itself are likely to become severely restricted until the cars begin to leave but to ensure that the residential estate roads adjacent are not adversely affected, measures should be taken at the planning stage to prevent any direct access, including pedestrian, between the school and the proposed residential area.

The provision of the 3 metre wide footway on one side of Roads 1 & 2 is clearly an attempt to provide pedestrians and possibly cyclists with a clear route through the site to Rawreth Lane. However, very little thought has been given to how people should be accommodated once they have reached Raweth Lane particularly as the new junction is to be uncontrolled. Because the main access road/pedestrian cycleway link is a cul de sac and part of it is also to be a 20 mph zone, cycles would normally be expected to use the carriageway and this should be the situation here. Lack of any traffic control at the Rawreth Lane junction would mean that it would be most important for cyclists particularly to be in the correct position on the carriageway once they are within the limits of the junction.

The section 106 agreement makes it very clear that there should be a bridleway link between the site and bridleway in the adjacent Sweyne Park. The provision of this link would provide a positive link between Sweyne Park and the bridleway on the opposite side of Rawreth Lane. The link shown at the southern end of the turning area at the end of Road 2 should be re-designated as a bridleway and dedicated as such.

Drainage in general and of the highways in particular, has proved to be a problem at the Reids Nursery site just down the road from here and any departures from the normally acceptable drainage systems, techniques and practices will need to be agreed in advance with this Office.”

We proposed that the decision be deferred but we lost the vote by 14 votes to 11, which leaves us very disappointed, None of the 14 who voted to push this through (13 Tories and independent Councillor Heather Glynn) actually spoke in favour of the road, they just voted anyway. When the council’s Director of Planning said that we don’t normally go into such detail about the design of a cul-de-sac road, our Lib Dem Colleague Chris Lumley replied, in simple words that a primary school pupil would understand , that most cul-de-sacs don’t have schools at the end of them.

We can foresee now the Focuses we’ll be writing in five years time about the congestion outside the school – after all there’s a highways officer predicting it. We also know that residents will be annoyed that we weren’t able to do anything about it. Thanks anyway for the one Labour and 6 Tories who supported us – in particular Sue Harper, Tory Councillor in Rochford, who showed a particular interest, and never takes the attitude “It’s in Rayleigh, so I won’t bother about it”.