Send your objections to the Ark Blake development to #eastcroydon councillors by 29 August

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Jerry Fitzpatrick has written to Croydon Council objecting to the development of the Ark Blake Secondary School on Moreland Road on road safety and transport concerns. If you also have concerns about the development, please contact your local councillors Sean Fitzsimons, Patricia Hay-Justice and Mark Watson by 29 August. Please could you copy us into your email at mail@eastcroydon.org.uk  as well.

Relevant policy statements on road safety

  • Borough Wide Transport Strategy prepared by Peter Brett Associates – date not identified (pps 121 and following is section on Road Safety,  quotations from 124-126,  showing that the section of Lower Addiscombe Road between Cherry Orchard Road and Blackhorse Lane ranked tenth highest for personal injury collisions between 2008 and 2010). “Lower Addiscombe Road between the junctions of Cherry Orchard Road and Black Horse (sic) Lane,  in Addiscombe and Ashburton and on the Borough Road Network and located (sic) had 28 accidents included (sic) a significant proportion (25 per cent) involving pedestrians and cyclists with pedestrians gain performing badly.   Of the pedestrian injuries the main cause could be attributed to pedestrians being hit by vehicles on crossings while a lesser cause related to pedestrians walking out into the path of a vehicle.    This suggests a problem with the design,  location or provision of crossing facilities along the link. (my emphasis)”   The accompanying table discloses that three of the accidents were serious and the remainder slight.
  •  Local Plan 2013 (p.71,  para. 7.15)
     “…….  Travel plans will look to ease congestion at peak times by encouraging walking,  cycling or public transport especially for school journeys.”
  • Transport Vision for Croydon (Moving towards a More Liveable Place)  March 2015 (p.16) “If many of our ambitions for Croydon are to be realised then safety has to be our priority……“There are and will be technical solutions to many road safety and accessibility issues,  and we will exploit these to the full.   However,  by changing the nature of places and redesigning streets as much for “quality of place” as for “movement” we aim to influence driver behaviour…..”
  • Mayor of London’s Draft Transport Strategy (p.11)“Road danger is caused by the dominance of large,  heavy,  potentially dangerous vehicles that can move at high speeds in places where people want to be.   Recent reductions in fatalities and injuries have mostly been achieved among drivers,  while the risk experienced by people who are walking and cycling – who pose very little danger to other road users – remains unacceptably high.”

My objections

Road safety must be a paramount consideration. I have set out above the high number of road accidents between 2008 and 2010 simply on the road which serves as the southern boundary of the proposed development.   In the period since,  there have been 83 accidents at locations close to the proposed development, of which two were fatal and six were serious.

I have read the traffic assessment which is one of the documents accompanying the application.  I note that it is prepared by the same Peter Brett Associates who acted as consultants for the preparation of Croydon Council’s borough transport strategy five or six years ago.   I have referred to this draft strategy above,  and inserted in bold font a sentence which refers to road safety concerns in the area close to the proposed Ark Blake School.

Therefore,  it was with surprise that I read Section 3.9 of PBA’s assessment at pps 29-30 under the heading “Road Safety Assessment” which after setting out statistics disclosing that there were 83 personal injury collisions in the relevant location,  of which two were fatal and six serious,  concludes at paragraph 3.10.4:

“No underlying road safety concerns were established near the site upon review of the personal injury collision data,  and parking beat surveys conducted by Intelligent Data observed there was substantial spare on-street parking capacity within a 5-minute walk radius of the site.”

The statement quoted in the previous paragraph seems at odds with the statement expressing road safety concerns in the earlier draft transport strategy which they prepared for the Local Authority.

One does not need to be an expert to be able to observe that the occurrence of a high number of personal injury collisions over an eight year period including collisions causative of two fatalities and nine serious injuries is persuasive evidence that we are looking at carriageways where there are significant road safety concerns.    I fear that these concerns have been minimised by Peter Brett Associates in their analysis for Ark Blake.   (I note,  in passing that the areas referred to in the 2008-2010 statistics and the 2011-2016 statistics may not be co-extensive,  and that it is possible that if the areas were co-extensive,  the figures would be worse,  the 2008-2010 data not apparently including Morland Road and the Lower Addiscombe Road immediately to the west of the junction with Morland Road.)

In my first career,  I was a schoolteacher,  and on many occasions saw children arriving at school late or on the cusp of lateness running across roads seemingly oblivious to risk.   Carefree children leaving school deep in conversation with their friends can at times be almost as heedless to danger.   Obviously,  the risk/danger is magnified to the extent that roads are busy ones.

The proposed location of Ark Blake is unsuitable for a school in respect of road safety considerations.    The location is in a part of the borough where already there is often an accident waiting to happen,  and the addition of the school population will add to the number of accidents and – inevitably – some of those accidents will result in serious injury or life-changing injury or death.

Further,  the transport infrastructure is unsuitable to take the pressure of the proposed new school in Morland Road.   The footways are narrow.   The congregation of children at bus-stops will cause footways to be obstructed,  and/or will force other footway users onto the carriageway.

The part of Addiscombe in which the proposed school is located is already notoriously choked with traffic at peak times,  including many rat-runners.   Many parents – whether concerned about road safety or otherwise – will drop off/collect their child(ren) by car,  adding to the congestion.

It is the aspiration of Croydon Council and the Mayor of London that we should reside in “liveable” communities.   For those of us living in the busy roads of East Croydon and Addiscombe,  the addition of a new school at the proposed location will be yet another step in the wrong direction.

Few of the residents who live closest to Ark Blake have the benefit of a Residents’ Association to articulate their views.    It is likely that if they did have that benefit there would be more and stronger critical representations about the proposed development.

I suggest that officers take a further and more careful look at the road safety and transport issues,  perhaps alongside their counterparts in TfL (whom I assume have a particular interest in the A222),  before a determination is made of the application.

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