School Parking on Middle Common

The results of the village survey on whether to add the extra parking detailed below were:

School Parking Proposal – Final Definition (13/06/22)

Background

In common with all schools, parking outside Langley Fitzurse school is very difficult at pickup and drop-off times.

Around 15 years ago the grass verge was reinforced with a plastic mesh and the kerb dropped to encourage parents to pull onto the grass. In practise this doesn’t happen as the height of the kerb is perceived to be still too high and the plastic mesh is slippery and of limited benefit.

Currently, the road is very congested twice a day caused by the many cars (upwards of 25 some days) that are parked along the roadside. More significantly the parents have reported a number of near misses and are concerned that the current arrangement is not safe.

This Issue has been raised repeatedly over the years and the Parish Council has looked at it again to see if any options could be identified. We discussed ideas in several Parish Council meetings and then held a separate meeting with representatives from the village, school and parents on 6th December 2021. We reviewed the problem and possible improvements: better communication to parents, use of the path to the village hall, school staff parking, minibus, using the Chapel parking area. All of these ideas were considered to be either impractical or unlikely to make a significant difference so we focussed on possible ways in which we might change the layout in front of the school.

Parents were very keen to acknowledge the need to consider the aesthetic impact of the options. They were also very concerned about traffic speeds in the village and were keen to lend their weight to anything that would help reduce them. We also recognized that the current congestion does have an upside, it stops the village becoming a morning shortcut. We don’t want any changes we make to increase the volume of commuter traffic using the village as a shortcut. It’s important to stress that there are no solutions that will fix the problem entirely, only improve it.

The Proposal
After also talking to Wiltshire Council Highways department, we settled on a design that would lower the height of the kerb and install a 2.2m wide concrete grasscrete pull-off area to the school side of the road (see https://grasscrete.com/ for example pictures) which will allow any type of car to easily pull fully off the road onto a solid concrete area. To help avoid speeding, the current width of the road will also be reduced to 5.5m and this parking area will be implemented for a 100m stretch between the Eastern entrance to the current parking loop (Coffin Way) and the entrance to Sedgebrook just past the Union Chapel.

The Highways Department advised that the 5.5m road width would ensure the road remains narrow enough to slow traffic but will still allow parked cars to be entirely off the road and for two average sized cars to pass each other with care. It also improves the sight lines around the curve, reducing the likelihood of gridlocks. However, it does mean care still has to be taken getting in and out of the car on one side – not ideal but an improvement on what we have.

Detailed plans were created with the objective to complete this work during the summer vacation in 2022 to minimise disturbance. We are confident we can get the work completed this summer and for the expected budget of around £55,000 + VAT. The Parish Council believes that it can fund this project from reserves plus a loan from the Public Works Loan Board of £32,000 over 15 years at an annual cost of £2,672 and that no increase in precept is required to fund this project.

The Chair of Governors of The Langley Fitzurse Stanton St Quintin Federation has said “On behalf of the school I would like to extend our support to the parking project. We are hopeful the proposed designs will help alleviate the congestion during school pick-up and drop off, and reduce the risk to the children and parents/carers.” A proposal on whether to proceed with the project as described and request a loan from the Public Works Loan Board was put to the Annual Parish Meeting. A substantial majority of attending villagers [19] expressed their support with a show of hands but we would like to rapidly understand more village opinions so that we can get the work completed during this summer.

Visual Plans

The following diagram is an outline plan to give you an idea of the School Parking project:

Detailed plans for the proposed School Parking Project are available here – you may need to zoom into the diagram to be able to see the detail!