Thursday, 19 May 2016 12:08

Staggered start times at massive new school

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A response to plans for the Ark Academy School will be prepared by Robin Bishop (left), who leads the Barnet Society’s planning and environment team, and Peter Bradburn, who advises on transport issues A response to plans for the Ark Academy School will be prepared by Robin Bishop (left), who leads the Barnet Society’s planning and environment team, and Peter Bradburn, who advises on transport issues
The Ark Academy network says it intends to work with planners at Barnet Council to try to meet local anxieties over proposals for a super-size, £31 million new school to be built on the site of Underhill, the former stadium of Barnet Football Club.

Nearby residents have concerns about the impact on other local schools and increased traffic congestion in Barnet Lane, Mays Lane, and at Underhill’s junction with the bottom of Barnet hill.

If a planning application to be submitted in June gets council approval, the football stadium and its floodlights would be demolished in November, ready for construction work to start on the new school early in 2017, for completion by September 2018.

Ark Pioneer Academy would cater for children from the age of two through to 19, from nursery to sixth form, and have 1,890 places when it reaches full capacity in September 2024.

It would serve a catchment area within a radius of just under two miles for primary school children and three miles for secondary pupils.

Measures proposed to minimise traffic congestion would include staggered start and finish times for different ages, with perhaps secondary pupils arriving earlier than primary-aged children, and off-site pick-up and drop-off points, with routes for children to walk to the school entrances.

Despite Ark’s reassurance that it would implement a plan to smooth the flow of traffic, the Barnet Society’s transport adviser Peter Bradburn says he remains concerned that the Underhill-Barnet hill junction would become an even greater bottle neck.

“Another challenge is the need to create a really a safe crossing on Barnet Hill for children travelling by underground or bus, a problem made even worse by the lack of a pavement on the tube line side of Barnet hill.”  

At the first of two public exhibitions to promote the new school (18.5.2016), Ark’s head of projects, Jenny Duncan, said Pioneer Academy would follow Barnet Council’s guidelines on accepting pupils.

“This will be a non-selective, non-denomination school and accept pupils from within the radius advised by Barnet Council.

“Children living outside the Barnet borough boundary, but within the limits of three miles, or just under two miles – for example in Hertsmere or the London Borough of Enfield – might also be eligible, and depending on take-up, children might come from further outside the radius.”

Ms Duncan said that the London Borough of Barnet needed new school places, at every level, from reception to sixth form. By 2025, there would need to be 2,700 additional primary places, and 5,000 secondary places.

Underhill had been chosen after an extensive search and was considered well suited

Underhill had been chosen after an extensive search and was considered “well suited” as the site for a new school. Its construction would help free up additional places at other local schools.

Once planning permission has been obtained, Ark will advertise for a founding principal for the new school.

Construction costs are to be paid for by the government’s Education Funding Agency. Bowmer and Kirkland, a major family-owned construction company, has been awarded the contact.

Construction vehicles will use both entrances to the site from Barnet Lane and where possible seek to avoid the use of Westcombe Drive.

As part of the planning process, Ark says it will submit a traffic management plan and any conditions imposed to ease congestion would be paid for by the EFA.


  • Comment Link Thursday, 19 May 2016 13:25 posted by Heather Jones

    Please try and get to the exhibition and question the representives on all aspects of this proposal. I went yesterday and there was considerable anger from local people at the inadequate answers to questions about the traffic, need for such a large school etc. It is doubtful we will have any influence but we must try.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 19 May 2016 14:46 posted by Nick de Naeyer

    I went to the 'consultation' yesterday and was distinctly unimpressed. It is as most residents feared, trying to put the biggest possible school on the site, and making nominal attempts to address the problems. To hit the headline here first, there's no way that staggering the start times for different age groups is going to significantly impact the traffic issues. Neither is walking buses, drop off points (at the Odeon) or cycle paths. My guesstimate is that there will be an EXTRA 500 car movements, twice a day. Plus there are only a handful of parking spaces for a projected 240 members of staff.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 19 May 2016 19:40 posted by Gemma

    Disgusted that a brand new school is being built when Totteridge Academy has had no funding and is severely undersubscribed. I have a son in yr 11 and another son starting in September. An explanation as to what will happen to TTA would be welcome. Instead, it's being left to rot.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 19 May 2016 20:28 posted by Emma

    Let's all stop being so negative. This is such a positive thing for high barnet and hopefully a solution to the problem of quality secondary schooling for boys in the area. The traffic problem can be solved I am sure. Let's have a proactive approach to improving the area rather than negativity from the nimby's.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 19 May 2016 20:50 posted by A Casson

    Traffic congestion is not the only issue. Additional traffic means more pollution, especially particulates which we now understand are very damaging to health.

    Staggering arrivals and departures extends the periods of higher pollution from the guesstimated additional 500 car movements per day.

  • Comment Link Friday, 20 May 2016 08:23 posted by Becky Glenister

    There is already traffic congestion around the proposed site for the school at busy times of the day. There is a 'bottleneck' at the junction of Fairfield Way and the A1000, heavy traffic and queues as Mays Lane meets the A1000 (all the same junction) as well as queues and heavy traffic where Barnet Lane meets Mays Lane. These two junctions are within a radius of a few hundred yards of the proposed school. Add extra cars travelling to the same site and the need for parking which will be inadequately met by the proposed school - nightmare! Don't forget that those living in Fairfield Way, Sherrards Way, Grasvenor Avenue, Linkway and Western Way have no choice but to travel via the 'bottleneck' as we all live in what is, effectively, a no through road.

  • Comment Link Friday, 20 May 2016 13:36 posted by Duncan Macdonald

    This is not about being a nimby. The problems with the current proposal are that a school of that size simply doesn't fit the site and the access to that site is poor with little realistic chance of significant improvement. We already have Grasvenor, St Catherine's, Underhill catering for primary age children with Foulds, Christchurch & Cromer Rd catchment areas covering a large portion of Underhill. TTA will undoubtedly be adversely affected and Barnet Council's figures show that Underhill is the one ward where the child population will be in decline until 2025. In short the business case (and yes this is a business) is weak. The need is far greater towards the South of the borough.

  • Comment Link Sunday, 22 May 2016 16:28 posted by Janet Nestor

    I agree with above message. Whilst there maybe a need for additional school places, surely we do not require one of this size and wide age range. Barnet is over populated and areas are being built upon all over the town and yes schools will be needed but the surrounding schools need money spent on them, improvements made to them, otherwise they will close due to lack of students.

    Has anyone given any thought to the flats being built at the top of the road where the Old Red Lion was? Additional parking will be required and will no doubt cause additional traffic. Residents living in the area have no other means of getting out of their road but at the top.

    This project needs careful consideration with the surrounding roads and residents number one priority.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 24 May 2016 12:56 posted by Andrew

    Expect more of these clashes between need for more school places versus valid concerns of local residents while we have uncontrolled immigration. Time for Brexit I would say.

  • Comment Link Friday, 27 May 2016 14:32 posted by Simon S

    I went to the consultation and there was a lot of anger expressed to the Ark representatives, needless to say, none of them live in the roads affected by this ludicrous scheme.

    Local schools should be supported and funded.

    The best legacy for this site would be a sports centre (with community swimming pool) which would benefit the whole community.

    I'm afraid that with population growth running out of control, Barnet residents are going to face endless battles with developers and opportunists like the Ark academy.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 02 June 2016 19:16 posted by Ann Michael

    I live in Fairfield way (top end) and was not informed of any consultation meetings. How have these been advertised?


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