Traffic concerns won’t stop free school

TRAFFIC fears will not stand in the way of Chichester Free School’s quest for planning permission.

Despite vociferous opinion from Runcton residents, the Highways Agency said increased traffic from the school run will not pose a problem, as long as school organisers stick to their travel plan.

“We are really pleased,” said Helen Humphry, project leader.

“The travel plan is completely workable – we have a car-sharing scheme which parents are more than happy to work with.”

To minimise the traffic, the school is setting up a breakfast club so parents can beat the rush by dropping children off early.

“We are also launching a website where parents can work out a scheme,” said Helen.

The free school is preparing to open in Vinnetrow Business Park in Runcton in September, provided planning permission is granted by Chichester District Council.

However, objectors described the increase in traffic as an ‘accident waiting to happen’.

Nicola Bradley, from Selsey, said: “I believe the change of use will have an adverse effect on the traffic levels on Vinnetrow Road, during peak hours when the road is already very busy.”

This week the school also announced plans to extend its opening hours at evenings and weekends.

“We are going to be offering a Saturday school for pupils so they can get any extra help in subjects – particularly English and maths,” said Helen.

“So we’ve applied to change the times for a little bit more flexibility, just in case we want to put on a concert, parents’ evening or hold any other activities.

“But we certainly aren’t planning to be there every week.”

A statement from the school read: “We believe with the right amount of support and intervention all pupils will achieve great things.

“To that end, we are planning a Saturday school. This additional help would be provided on a short-term basis where pupils would attend on a four- to six-month basis.”

Nicola Schilling, from Vinnetrow Road, has objected to the plans.

“I would like to draw attention to the fact there is a planning condition in place restricting the hours of access and vehicular movement on the site,” she said.

“If the school cannot work within those hours specified then it is just another sign of the suitability of the site for the proposal.

“I believe that the condition put in place in the interest of residential amenity is now even more valid than before.”