Expanding primary school ‘will aggravate chaotic traffic problem’, warns councillor

Traffic problems in Wellgreen Lane, Kingston (photo submitted). SUS-160518-144438001
Traffic problems in Wellgreen Lane, Kingston (photo submitted). SUS-160518-144438001

Expanding Kingston’s primary school will aggravate an already ‘chaotic traffic situation’ according to its district councillor.

East Sussex County Council’s planning committee approved extensions to Iford and Kingston Church of England Primary School to provide classrooms, extra hall space, a new entrance and waiting area, and office space at a meeting on Wednesday.

This would allow it to operate as a one-form entry school with space for 210 pupils.

Objections from residents centred around traffic problems in Wellgreen Lane when parents are picking up and dropping off their children.

Vic Ient, Lewes district councillor for Kingston, said the expansion would ‘further aggravate the chaotic traffic situation in the village’.

In an email to the county council’s planning officers, Cllr Ient argued money towards a Traffic Regulation Order for extending keep clear markings was a ‘wholly inadequate solution’.

He had talked to officers earlier this year about the possibility of reaching an agreement with nearby businesses to secure parking and turning areas, alongside improvements to the pedestrian routes to the school, but asked why no further progress had been made.

After the meeting he expressed his support for trying to improve the school, but described being ‘disappointed’ by the decision to approve the application without extra measures to address the traffic problems.

He added: “The council are going to kick it down the line and officers will be off doing something else.”

He also criticised the decision not to let Carla Butler (LDem, Newhaven and Ouse Valley West), the county councillor for Kingston, speak during the meeting because the committee was determining the application on behalf of the South Downs National Park Authority and therefore there were no elected councillors for the national park.

Cllr Ient said he and Cllr Butler would continue to talk to officers about creating a ‘sustainable transport system in place’.

Tony Wheeler, speaking on behalf of Kingston Parish Council, said they were not opposed to the application in its own right, but they had real concerns about traffic and parking.

He called on the county council to investigate measures to control traffic flows through the village, and added: “There is a current and real danger that needs to be addressed.”

In light of the potential closure of both Pells and Rodmell CoE primary schools and new development in Newhaven, Cllr Wheeler suggested Kingston had been chosen to help make up a shortfall of school places.

Kathryn Field (LDem, Battle and Crowhurst) agreed with replacing mobile classrooms which she felt were ‘not particularly good for the education of children’ and thought expansion would be ‘good for the school’.

But she did tell councillors that just because there was traffic chaos around a number of schools in East Sussex, it was ‘no justification for accepting it outside this one’.

Richard Stogdon (Con, Crowborough), vice-chairman of the committee, added: “I do not think the traffic issues which have been highlighted to us are of sufficient weight to do anything other than approved this application.”

But Ian Buchanan (UKIP, Peacehaven and Telscombe Towns) asked ‘why has this not been addressed before’ as it has ‘been going on for years’.

Steve Wallis (LDem, Eastbourne - Devonshire) added: “We need to address the need for school places but the traffic impact in something in the future I’m concerned about with this application and the impact on the local highways and I hope the travel plan will address this.”

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