Sunday, 14 August 2022

School expansion sparks call for new road crossing

A PRIMARY school in Henley is set to expand.

A PRIMARY school in Henley is set to expand.

Oxfordshire County Council plans to build a £430,000 extension at Badgemore Primary School in Hop Gardens incorporating a new school hall, kitchen and reception.

Two new classrooms will be provided by converting the current hall, staff room and kitchen.

There are currently 77 pupils at the school but it will have a capacity of 228 following the extension.

Henley councillors have welcomed the move but want a pedestrian crossing due to the extra number of pupils and additional traffic.

Ten parking spaces will be added to Hop Gardens and neighbouring Crisp Road will be promoted as an alternative drop-off point for parents.

Speaking at a meeting of the town council’s planning committee, Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak, a former teacher, said: “There’s a need for primary school places in Henley and Badgemore is an obvious place for expansion but these new students won’t come from that side of Henley so I would propose we accept this providing the council puts a pedestrian crossing at the top of Gravel Hill. There should be a walk-to-school policy but if parents are being encouraged to walk to school they should have a safe crossing.”

Councillor Martin Akehurst said: “That particular junction is very dangerous.

“I know that a number of primary schools have promoted walking to school but I would like to see a caveat that a pedestrian crossing is put in there.” Councillor Sam Evans said it was “fantastic” that money was being spent on Badgemore.

But she added: “It would be great if we can convince parents to walk to school. I wouldn’t be chuffed if I lived in Crisp Road and they were encouraging everyone to park there.”

Councillor Laila Meachin supported the call for a crossing, saying there would also be more traffic as a result of the Townlands Hospital redevelopment.

Councillor David Clenshaw said many of the other primary schools also faced difficulties with traffic.

“All we can do is the best we can with the facilities we’ve got and that may mean parking in other streets,” he added.

Councillor Lorraine Hillier said: “I’m glad money is finally being spent by the county council on bricks and mortar — it has got to be a plus.”

Councillor Kellie Hinton said the school was “crying out for a makeover”, adding: “It has the best view of Henley of any school — it’s brilliant up there so the more pupils we can send up there the better.”

Joint headteacher Lesley Crockett told the Henley Standard there were “exciting times” ahead for Badgemore.

This year, the new intake increased from 15 to 30 for the first time and will follow a similar pattern in the future.

Mrs Crockett said: “We’re a small school at the moment and within Henley we can’t compete on a level playing field with other schools.

“It’s difficult as a small school to get involved in the same activities but this will make us the same size as Sacred Heart and Valley Road.”

She said a pedestrian crossing was “long overdue” after a number of near-misses.

In March, Badgemore parent Andrew Bridekirk called Gravel Hill a “gauntlet of death” after he and his six-year-old daughter Elisia were almost knocked down by a car while walking to school.

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