New Watford Town Community Free School met with opposition from nearby residents

Efforts to get a new Watford primary school ready in time to accommodate 120 pupils in September are facing mounting opposition from people living nearby.

Hopes of opening the new Watford Town Community Free School in the Lanchester building on West Herts College’s Hempstead Road site hinge on a planning application due to be heard at the end of the month.

However, scores of people living on the Cassiobury estate near the school are objecting on the grounds of its "absurd" proposed drop-off point on a residential road, which they say will create a dangerous situation for children.

Current school plans will see an old access path from the campus to Cassiobury Drive re-opened. The path’s entrance is on a junction with Woodland Drive.

Andrew Shewan, a retired software engineer living in Cassiobury Drive, said: "The whole thing has become absurd. We have had the school saying they are going to promote walking to school, but they have not selected the pupils and do not know which parents will be walking and who will come by car.

"The original plans did not include the path to the junction. Most people do not understand how they can use this as a drop-off point. You don’t just drop a five-year-old off - you have to walk them into the school. People will also object to the amount of traffic it will create. It is already difficult to get around the estate in the mornings.

"It’s not right. You have to think of the safety of the kids and do what is right. I am not sure what that is, but this does not seem to be it."

The problems with the new school come against a backdrop of a looming shortage of primary school places, which has led to a series of new schools being planned and current ones expanded.

The Watford Town Community Free School is one of two schools the West Herts Community Free School Trust hopes to open in the next few years.

The Lanchester school had been due to take 60 pupils from September. However, that number has temporarily doubled after plans to build another new 60-pupil primary in Ascot Road, West Watford, hit problems, delaying its opening until next year.

The trust plans to accommodate the Ascot Road pupils at the Lanchester site while their new school is built for opening in September 2015.

This week, Susan Poole, project manager for the free schools trust, said whether the Lanchester school would be ready for September depended on the council passing its planning application to make improvements to the building.

She said: "It is anticipated it will be ready for 2014. There are a number of minor amendments which we can get on with if [the application] goes through."

Asked what would happen to the 120 pupils if the Lanchester building was not ready on time, Ms Poole added: "We have contingencies we are working on at the moment but we won’t be making them public until they are needed."

The council’s development control committee is due to vote on the application on Thursday, January 30.

Comments (9)

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6:34pm Sat 11 Jan 14

gusgreen says...

NIMBY 's
NIMBY 's gusgreen

7:07pm Sat 11 Jan 14

-Nightingale- says...

I can't think of a better place to have a primary school.
I can't think of a better place to have a primary school. -Nightingale-

7:38pm Sat 11 Jan 14

Cuetip says...

-Nightingale- wrote:
I can't think of a better place to have a primary school.
Just wondering if you have considered whether if it has any playground space or drop off points at the front of the building or the added congestion on a major arterial road with a roundabout where traffic is frequently at a standstill?
[quote][p][bold]-Nightingale-[/bold] wrote: I can't think of a better place to have a primary school.[/p][/quote]Just wondering if you have considered whether if it has any playground space or drop off points at the front of the building or the added congestion on a major arterial road with a roundabout where traffic is frequently at a standstill? Cuetip

9:20am Sun 12 Jan 14

not a regular says...

WO should really be linking to the most up to date plans in the article.
WO should really be linking to the most up to date plans in the article. not a regular

12:56pm Sun 12 Jan 14

doggydo says...

This has obviously got nothing to do with the safety of children. The section of woodland drive in question is a cul-de-sac, as is that end of Cassiobury drive. There are schools on housing estates all over Watford that are on narrower, busier residential streets, and people just get on with it. I think the stuck-up people of Cassiobury who are objecting think that living in such a desirable location makes them a cut above everybody else. So suck it up Cassiobury, and deal with it like the rest of us have to.
This has obviously got nothing to do with the safety of children. The section of woodland drive in question is a cul-de-sac, as is that end of Cassiobury drive. There are schools on housing estates all over Watford that are on narrower, busier residential streets, and people just get on with it. I think the stuck-up people of Cassiobury who are objecting think that living in such a desirable location makes them a cut above everybody else. So suck it up Cassiobury, and deal with it like the rest of us have to. doggydo

5:26pm Sun 12 Jan 14

EU_OUT_NOW says...

Anywhere but not in my back yard????? Maybe there are too many people/children coming into the UK?. What a silly comment for me to make, can't possibly be the case!
Anywhere but not in my back yard????? Maybe there are too many people/children coming into the UK?. What a silly comment for me to make, can't possibly be the case! EU_OUT_NOW

6:32pm Sun 12 Jan 14

KeepCalm2014 says...

I live on Cassiobury Drive and have seen how the expansion of Cassisobury School has already effected the traffic on the estate. It can often take 15 minutes to get onto Hempstead road in the morning as there are only 2 exit points. Therefore to repopen the alley way in Cassiobury Drive to enable Free School Parents to drop their chidlren will only make the traffic worse at the busiest time of the morning. I cannot see this location for the school working as the it is one of the busiest parts of Watford. The Free School suggest they will make individual travel plans for each child but as a Mum myself I know the majority of parents will drive in the morning. I also worry for children's safety if they are being dropped off by their parents in the morning as Cassiobury Drive is very busy throughout the day especially at that end with traffic to the Peace Hospice and Prospect House.
I live on Cassiobury Drive and have seen how the expansion of Cassisobury School has already effected the traffic on the estate. It can often take 15 minutes to get onto Hempstead road in the morning as there are only 2 exit points. Therefore to repopen the alley way in Cassiobury Drive to enable Free School Parents to drop their chidlren will only make the traffic worse at the busiest time of the morning. I cannot see this location for the school working as the it is one of the busiest parts of Watford. The Free School suggest they will make individual travel plans for each child but as a Mum myself I know the majority of parents will drive in the morning. I also worry for children's safety if they are being dropped off by their parents in the morning as Cassiobury Drive is very busy throughout the day especially at that end with traffic to the Peace Hospice and Prospect House. KeepCalm2014

2:46pm Mon 13 Jan 14

#UKMum says...

WTCFS - why not call it Lanchester Primary? We already have a 'Watford Town' at Vicagage Road. Those initials also stand for other things as well. Who was in charge of naming the school one wonders.
WTCFS - why not call it Lanchester Primary? We already have a 'Watford Town' at Vicagage Road. Those initials also stand for other things as well. Who was in charge of naming the school one wonders. #UKMum

8:25pm Sun 26 Jan 14

Spudly says...

I also live on Cassiobury Drive. From what I've heard, very few people on the estate have an problem with the school location itself. Far from it - Watford has a massive school places shortage and that building is an obvious choice when considering where to site a school. The problem arises with the drop off point.
1) there are only two roads that allow entry and exit of the estate. These are already heavily congested at drop off and pick up times.
2) cassiobury drive is already a rat run with traffic speeding dangerously.
3) cassiobury drive and the surrounding roads have a number of parking restrictions on them, meaning the actual number of available spaces for parking at drop off will be severely limited.
4) the old alleyway was notorious for its crime levels before it was closed at the request of the police.
5) that end of the road is a cul de sac, ending with the peace hospice. I'm sure they will be delighted by the extra traffic swarming around what should be a peaceful place.
So, no, it's not a case of NIMBY, though that may be an element for some. So for the person who said 'suck it up', we already have two schools on the estate and the roads already struggle to cope with the traffic since the expansion of these schools. Coping with another school's traffic? No thanks.
I also live on Cassiobury Drive. From what I've heard, very few people on the estate have an problem with the school location itself. Far from it - Watford has a massive school places shortage and that building is an obvious choice when considering where to site a school. The problem arises with the drop off point. 1) there are only two roads that allow entry and exit of the estate. These are already heavily congested at drop off and pick up times. 2) cassiobury drive is already a rat run with traffic speeding dangerously. 3) cassiobury drive and the surrounding roads have a number of parking restrictions on them, meaning the actual number of available spaces for parking at drop off will be severely limited. 4) the old alleyway was notorious for its crime levels before it was closed at the request of the police. 5) that end of the road is a cul de sac, ending with the peace hospice. I'm sure they will be delighted by the extra traffic swarming around what should be a peaceful place. So, no, it's not a case of NIMBY, though that may be an element for some. So for the person who said 'suck it up', we already have two schools on the estate and the roads already struggle to cope with the traffic since the expansion of these schools. Coping with another school's traffic? No thanks. Spudly

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