School car park plans are ‘not in keeping’ with area

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A PLAN to construct a 57-space car park to improve road safety around St John’s School has been criticised in a report by the transport section of the Growth, Housing and Environment Department which says that it would make the area more dangerous.

Constable Chris Taylor Picture: ROB CURRIE. (26042756)

Parish Constable Chris Taylor said that improvements to the area had first been suggested more than 30 years ago but that he had acted now to avert ‘an accident waiting to happen’, and he criticised the report which he said had been prepared without reference to the parish, its honorary police, the school or shop-owners in the village.

The Constable’s proposals, overwhelmingly supported at a Parish Assembly in February last year, are the subject of a planning application advertised in August and, according to Mr Taylor, are now likely to go to an independent planning inspector because they conflict with the Island Plan presumption against development on a greenfield site.

He said that the urgency of the situation was highlighted by several near misses involving children being dropped off on the road and having to negotiate overtaking bicycles to get to school. He added that the present one-way system resulted in a rat-run being created along Rue Gombrette.

However, the transport report is strongly critical of the plans – which involve widening Rue des Buttes, moving the parish war memorial and constructing a car park and adjacent garden – as ‘the highway proposals will make the area less inviting and less safe for pedestrians, especially children’.

The report continues: ‘The days of predict and provide for cars through road building and unlimited car park supply are long since abandoned across Europe and the UK in favour of softer measures. These include school travel plans, which are geared towards educating people to use their cars less and highway improvements to facilitate sustainable transport.

‘Rue des Buttes would become a wide road, not in keeping with its rural setting... the character of the area is likely to be changed for ever,’ the report says.

However, Constable Taylor said that to suggest, as the report did, that there was no need for additional parking in the village was ‘blatantly untrue’ and that parents visiting the school to see teachers were obliged to park ‘somewhere they shouldn’t be parking’ with the tacit approval of the parish. This could not continue, he added.

It is not only the transport section which has expressed objections to aspects of the scheme. Planning’s historic environment section has objected to the resiting of the war memorial although Constable Taylor said that the plans had since been modified to address some of these concerns.

In particular, he said, the revised plans ensured that a wall surrounding the memorial was replaced with granite posts and chains, and that differences in ground level were eliminated.

Save Jersey’s Heritage has also criticised the plans arguing that they would compromise the view of the Grade 1-listed parish church which, from the south, would be viewed not across an open field but a sea of cars.

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