Traffic congestion concerns have been voiced with regards to the £5m proposals to convert a former Norwich fire station into Britain’s first free school dedicated to mathematics and science.

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The Sir Isaac Newton Maths and Science Sixth Form Free School hopes to welcome its first intake of up to 220 pupils to the former Bethel Street fire station from September, plus 30 staff members.

The plan is for up to 220 more pupils, aged between 16 and 19, to start in September 2014, along with a further 15 staff members.

A planning application is set to be submitted to Norwich City Council within days.

But councillors yesterday used pre-application talks to raise issues about the potential impact extra traffic to the school could have on city centre roads during rush hour.

They questioned why the school, which aims to be open to pupils from across Norfolk, needed to be based in the city centre. One suggestion was for a location to be sought near to the Norwich Research Park, in Colney Lane, to make the most of the school’s links to science and maths.

Bert Bremner, cabinet member for transportation, said: “We are talking about 45 staff and 400 to 450 pupils. What are the traffic implications? I think you say there are no parking facilities, quite rightly, for the staff and there’s pupils coming into the city centre. How is that to be policed?”

Project architect Chris Gilbert said 50 cycle spaces would be available at the school and a nearby cycle shop is to offer services, including puncture repairs, for free to allow pupils to get to and from the site. He said it was also being emphasised to pupils at enrolment stage that it will be a “no car site”, with public transport recommended.

Mr Gilbert added discussions were still taking place to decide staff car parking arrangements, including potential use of city centre car parks or encouraging them to use park and ride.

Mike Stonard, a planning committee member, said: “I am still not convinced the site is ideal for the school.”

The principal’s office is to be at the base of the former station’s tower while the original weather vane will be retained, according to designs.

The fire station was built in 1934 and is owned by the Lind Trust, a youth-focused charity established by Christian entrepreneur Graham Dacre. It will be leased by the free school.

9 comments

  • 'How to generate congestion in the inner City', not a good position for a school, this will result in awkward parking, a parking fine generator, unless off course, these children walked and cycled.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, January 18, 2013

  • Err... Labour councillor not convinced about Free School site?! Who'd have thought!! It's going to be built so get over it. How on earth do other city centre schools manage - oh, yes, the pupils get the bus and train. Amazing.

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    a fine city

    Friday, January 18, 2013

  • Should have never been granted permission to be a free school in the first place. Isn't it the idea to consider things like transportation at planning stage, and if there are major concerns the plans have to be resubmitted?

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    chebram71

    Friday, January 18, 2013

  • I'm sure any other business opening and using this disused site would be welcomed with open arms. I'm sure it's just an anti free school thing from local authorities.

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    kevin spilling

    Friday, January 18, 2013

  • A new school in the city centre must have a huge catchment area. Very little thought has been put into this. Nearly 500 pupils and staff! I hope one of the conditions for this new school is that there will be no car parking for school staff. They should set an example and use public transport, cycle or walk. If they have got important documents to carry about then use a taxi. Sorted!

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    woodgreener

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

  • A new school in the city centre must have a huge catchment area. Very little thought has been put into this. Nearly 500 pupils and staff! I hope one of the conditions for this new school is that there will be no car parking for school staff. They should set an example and use public transport, cycle or walk. If they have got important documents to carry about then use a taxi. Sorted!

    Report this comment

    woodgreener

    Saturday, January 19, 2013

  • There is no reason for pupils of 16+ to be brought close to the school so there should be no special parking concerns. I can never understand why parents seem to insist on driving right up to the school gates. It's perfectly safe for most children to walk the last half mile together with lots of other children. This Free School should be in the City centre - not stuck out in some anonymous location depriving the students of contact with business and commerce and the behaviour expected of a civilised city.

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    JCW

    Friday, January 18, 2013

  • Do 16 -19 year olds get dropped off at City College? I suspect not so why should these 16 -19 year olds be any different. Seems like a feeble excuse from the anti Free School brigade

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    jennifer jane

    Friday, January 18, 2013

  • An excellent use for the old fire station to be turned into a school. No reason for it to be situated near the University which would create more traffic problems for an already congested area. . Bus station serving all of Norfolk in the City for students and staff. City College and the Academy have no on sight parking and they have learned to cope. With Cities and towns suffering from shop closures this new school would perhaps bring business and life back to the area.

    Report this comment

    Peter Clarke

    Monday, January 21, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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