How can planning help us?

With the boom in childbirths, Richmond is one of the places that needs to do some serious school expansion. 

Last week I went to a governors’ meeting, at which the council asked us to consider taking a third form of entry. (Which would take the school roll from 420-490 pupils to 630 pupils.) They’ve done some thinking about the building, and the number of pupils, and the other logistics, but they think they know the one reason the planning department is most likely to stall the whole project: because the road can’t cope with the traffic. 

A consultant has already suggested that for our school, where 19% of all journeys are by car, another 30 car journeys would result, morning and evening, and this would be enough to cause congestion. 

Now, I’m deeply impressed that the school staff, using the school travel plan and other measures, have been able to get so many people arriving at school without cars, but what’s really depressing is the institutional approach which this concern betrays: the overwhelming concern for being able to drive around un-interrupted, and the absence of any meaningful consideration of alternatives. 

Also, of course, there’s the slightly laughable concern that, twice a day, a road might be a bit busier (remember – that’s an additional 30 cars…), and therefore we should kill off a strategic project for the borough. 

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