Plans to relocate University College School's playing fields in Cricklewood, Barnet

This Is Local London: Residents opposing the plans with Cllr Jack Cohen, who came to hear their concerns Residents opposing the plans with Cllr Jack Cohen, who came to hear their concerns

Neighbours fear a school will be left with “blood on its hands” if plans to build a new access route to its playing fields are approved.

University College School has applied to move the entrance of its sports ground, in Ranulph Road, Cricklewood, to the sharp bend where Hocroft Road and Farm Avenue meet.

But residents have rallied together to block the proposals, which they say will cause hazardous traffic jams and inevitable accidents on the picturesque street.

Sidney Myers, of Hocroft Road, said: “It is a notoriously dangerous road and people never drive safely down it.

“It is irresponsible for a school to consider endangering children in this way - it is an extraordinary situation. The school will have blood on its hands if there is an accident.

“It will be chaos.”

Back in 1999, Barnet Borough Council rejected the same proposal, saying it would make the already dangerous road less safe.

Many voiced objections at a consultation event last September - so former students were shocked to receive a newsletter which said there had been a “positive” response.

Former head boy Andrew Barnett, who has lived in Farm Avenue since 1961, said: “I am disappointed in my old school for their complete intransigence.

“I am concerned about the security, safety and aesthetics of this. They school just see it as something they want to do - they don’t care.”

The £5,720-a-year school, in Frognal, Hampstead, also plans to knock down the old pavilion and replace it with a new building.

The £6million plans include a 25-space new car park, but residents feel it will become a “hiding place” for burglars in an area which is already high in crime.

Many believe the car park will not be used by parents, who will instead park on the streets or in front of driveways when making quick drop-offs or pick ups.

Wendy Bond spent almost two hours monitoring the traffic on fireworks night in November - and said it was a “chaotic sign of things to come”.

She said: “They should listen to us - it could save someone’s life.”

Retired solicitor Graham Barber, of Farm Avenue, said: “We believe they are going to turn a dangerous bend into a death trap.

“Parents take no notice of the rules and just park where they want at the moment, but this is going to make things so much worse.”

In a statement, UCS said it hoped the new access route would help improve its facilities, security and traffic arrangements.

It said: “We have sought planning permission to build a new sports pavilion to better serve our pupils, parents and visitors and create a far safer vehicular entrance at Farm Avenue. 

“Currently the local roads can be burdened with traffic for collection and parking.  By providing on-site parking for coaches and cars we hope to ease pressure on surrounding streets. 

“Our architects are working with traffic engineers to ensure access to the site is safe and secure, since ensuring the safety of both visitors and local residents is paramount to UCS.”

The plans will be heard at Barnet Borough Council's planning committee on March 6.

Comments (3)

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11:47am Sat 1 Feb 14

Edgar de Jarnac says...

I don’t understand this campaign.

The report says: “Many believe the car park will not be used by parents, who will instead park on the streets or in front of driveways when making quick drop-offs or pick ups.” But surely that is what happens now? There is already a pedestrian entrance to the site from the point where Hocroft Road and Farm Avenue meet, and parents already drop off or pick up their kids here.

You quote a Farm Avenue resident as saying: “Parents take no notice of the rules and just park where they want at the moment, but this is going to make things so much worse.” Why on earth will it make things worse? Since UCS plans to provide some on-site parking, surely the proposal will make things better by taking at least some of the cars off the street?

The suggestion that the school will have “blood on its hands” is ludicrous hyperbole, and the claim that the proposed car park will become a hiding place for burglars suggests that the campaigners are desperate to grasp at any wild fantasy that might support their cause.

And what about that reference to a “picturesque street”? To my mind the most picturesque aspect of Hocroft Road and Farm Avenue is actually the wide open space (i.e., the UCS sports ground) seen as one looks in a southerly direction along either of these otherwise dreary suburban streets.

The problem here is clearly not the UCS proposal. The problem is the unexpectedly sharp angle between Hocroft Road and Farm Avenue. The campaigners themselves acknowledge that there has been a long-term problem with the way in which drivers negotiate this bend. As Mr Sidney Myers of Hocroft Road says, “It is a notoriously dangerous road and people never drive safely down it.” Surely all that is needed is the simple installation of a couple of 6ft 6in width restrictions to bring vehicles to a crawl as they approach the bend from either direction.
I don’t understand this campaign. The report says: “Many believe the car park will not be used by parents, who will instead park on the streets or in front of driveways when making quick drop-offs or pick ups.” But surely that is what happens now? There is already a pedestrian entrance to the site from the point where Hocroft Road and Farm Avenue meet, and parents already drop off or pick up their kids here. You quote a Farm Avenue resident as saying: “Parents take no notice of the rules and just park where they want at the moment, but this is going to make things so much worse.” Why on earth will it make things worse? Since UCS plans to provide some on-site parking, surely the proposal will make things better by taking at least some of the cars off the street? The suggestion that the school will have “blood on its hands” is ludicrous hyperbole, and the claim that the proposed car park will become a hiding place for burglars suggests that the campaigners are desperate to grasp at any wild fantasy that might support their cause. And what about that reference to a “picturesque street”? To my mind the most picturesque aspect of Hocroft Road and Farm Avenue is actually the wide open space (i.e., the UCS sports ground) seen as one looks in a southerly direction along either of these otherwise dreary suburban streets. The problem here is clearly not the UCS proposal. The problem is the unexpectedly sharp angle between Hocroft Road and Farm Avenue. The campaigners themselves acknowledge that there has been a long-term problem with the way in which drivers negotiate this bend. As Mr Sidney Myers of Hocroft Road says, “It is a notoriously dangerous road and people never drive safely down it.” Surely all that is needed is the simple installation of a couple of 6ft 6in width restrictions to bring vehicles to a crawl as they approach the bend from either direction. Edgar de Jarnac
  • Score: 0

6:25am Sun 2 Feb 14

Edgar de Jarnac says...

And another thing.

The report is wrong when it says, "Back in 1999, Barnet Borough Council rejected the same proposal, saying it would make the already dangerous road less safe."

That was not the same proposal at all. It was a proposal to relocate the UCS junior school onto the playing fields site. That would certainly have led to increased traffic, but the current proposal will not.

Incidentally, can the campaigners provide any accident statistics to back up their claim that the road is already "notoriously dangerous"?
And another thing. The report is wrong when it says, "Back in 1999, Barnet Borough Council rejected the same proposal, saying it would make the already dangerous road less safe." That was not the same proposal at all. It was a proposal to relocate the UCS junior school onto the playing fields site. That would certainly have led to increased traffic, but the current proposal will not. Incidentally, can the campaigners provide any accident statistics to back up their claim that the road is already "notoriously dangerous"? Edgar de Jarnac
  • Score: 0

8:38pm Sun 2 Feb 14

Edgar de Jarnac says...

Me again.

Former UCS head boy (and Farm Avenue resident) Andrew Barnett is concerned about “the security, safety and aesthetics” of the UCS proposal. Can he explain exactly how a simple relocation of the playing fields entrances introduces issues of security, safety and aesthetics? I would love to know.

According to the Times Group report, Mr Barnett adds: “They (sic) school just see it as something they want to do - they don’t care.” What exactly is it that he sees the school not caring about? Nimbyism, perhaps?

And Mr Barnett say he is disappointed in his old school for its alleged “complete intransigence”. I suspect that UCS is disappointed in Mr Barnett for the same reason.
Me again. Former UCS head boy (and Farm Avenue resident) Andrew Barnett is concerned about “the security, safety and aesthetics” of the UCS proposal. Can he explain exactly how a simple relocation of the playing fields entrances introduces issues of security, safety and aesthetics? I would love to know. According to the Times Group report, Mr Barnett adds: “They (sic) school just see it as something they want to do - they don’t care.” What exactly is it that he sees the school not caring about? Nimbyism, perhaps? And Mr Barnett say he is disappointed in his old school for its alleged “complete intransigence”. I suspect that UCS is disappointed in Mr Barnett for the same reason. Edgar de Jarnac
  • Score: 0

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