The College is very aware of growing concerns about the safety and sustainability of existing travel to school arrangements amongst our students, parents and neighbours to our site.
The location of our site combined with existing facilities which would support parents and students to make different choices for the twice daily journey to and from school.
Our students tell us they are sensitive to the environmental impact of their transport choices and would like to be able to walk and cycle more frequently.
Parents tell us that they do not feel the current narrow footpath which is adjacent to a busy main road parts of which are subject only to the national speed limit is safe. There is no cycle path and in wet weather students can be soaked by passing cars travelling at speed.
Our neighbours are affected by on street parking around the site particularly at pick up and drop off points and although we have for some years attempted to encourage an informal one-way system it is unenforceable and voluntary.
These photos show the general concerns we experience as a community:
- Congested traffic during pick up and drop off
- Congestion of cars and buses
- Leaf covered paths which are slippy in wet weather
- Exposed and narrow paths next to busy and fast-moving traffic
What the College has done
- Regular reminders in letters and newsletters to parents to avoid parking on restricted areas or in front of resident driveways, to follow the one-way system at the times indicated.
- Campaigned for safe crossings outside the school, to limited success. Purchased our own “School Lollipop” in the absence of road crossing safety measures or traffic calming measures.
- Formally reporting near-misses of potential accidents on nearby roads to East Sussex to raise the profile of the problem.
- For two years we have been engaging with local authority colleagues to see what solutions or improvements could be made.
Suggestions have included reducing the speed limit, some form of traffic calming, a mandatory one-way system, widening of the current footpath. We have sought support from our local MP to access funding that was made available to schools during the COVID pandemic.
Regrettably these discussions have not yielded any fruit. There is no funding available for such improvements, the situation is not judged a priority and as a result Governors have concluded that a different approach is necessary.
What we are doing now
The best solution we can arrive it would involve construction of a new purpose-built path and cycleway across the private estate of Heathfield Park. Entry would be around the existing gate on Tower Street then following the boundary of the existing parkland to exit broadly opposite the current Leisure Centre site just up from the school.
Governors have approached the owners of Heathfield Park who are prepared to consider the scheme. In principle and subject to necessary planning and costing the owners are prepared to set aside land for the path and enabling development which would either fund the path or contribute towards it.
Governors put on record their thanks to the owners for their in-principle support for such a scheme.
Any development in Heathfield Park is clearly sensitive – parts of the site are designated areas of special scientific interest and we are very aware of the need to develop any plans not just to meet the conditions which will deliver planning permission but, in a way, which is beneficial to the community as a whole.
To this end Governors have reached out to the Heathfield Partnership to co-ordinate a community consultation with the aim of ensuring that the views of the community as a whole are understood before any plans are developed or put forward.
Further details of the consultation can be found here
Click here to go straight to the consultation form and register your views. The consultation will remain open until 31 December 2022 and a summary of the views submitted by that date will be provided on this page early in the New Year. Please share the link with those within the community who would wish to be involved. If you experience any difficulties accessing the survey, please contact the [email protected] and a form can be emailed to you for completion and return.
How can parents and students help?
There are a number of ways in which parents and students can help to support the initiative:
- Make your views known using community social media sites and through the formal consultation
- Make sure your elected representatives at Wealden, Heathfield and Waldron Parish and East Sussex County Council are aware of your support for the scheme.
- Make sure that any near misses or incidents which affect the safety of students/the wider community or have the potential to do so are reported to the school
- Let us know how you/your child get to and from school now and whether the availability of this alternative route would enable you to make different choices.
- If you have any other ideas that would improve safety or sustainability in the meantime let us know what they are
We are keen to receive your thoughts, views and ideas on this subject and although not every email will receive a personalised reply we will make sure all views are properly collected and reflected as we move forward. Please contact [email protected] with “Safe and Sustainable Travel” in the subject line.
We will keep this page updated with any key progress or news that relates to the project.
Thank you, meantime, for your patience and your support
Chair of Governors