The proposal

We want to create a safer, less polluted, car-free entrance to the school by re-opening the gate from Banister Gardens. Initially this will be for a trial period of 9 months, during which time we will demonstrate that by a combination of contracts with parents, regular enforcement, rewards and pester power, we can stop parents from bringing their cars into Banister Gardens. At the end of that trial period, if we have been successful in keeping this entrance car free, we will ask for the access restriction to be lifted permanently.

Background

The gate from Banister Gardens was the main route into the school for the 60 years from its construction in 1952 until the opening of the new building in 2012. As part of the planning agreement for the new build, the gate was closed. This was in response to submissions by local residents, and against the advice of governors who foresaw the dangers of having access only from Archers Road.

Why do we want to do it?

Safety

The school has 400 pupils. Almost all are accompanied to school by a parent, and some with a younger sibling. In total, approximately 800 people access the school from Archers Road each morning and afternoon. At the peak time in the morning, around 8.45, parents and children are arriving at school while other parents, and younger children, are leaving. Other pedestrians are also walking along Archers Road. The pavement outside the school is 1.7m to 1.8m wide, and cannot support this density of footfall safely. The situation is made worse by those parents who persist in stopping on or by the pavement close to the school – despite our best efforts to discourage them – and opening car doors onto the pavement.

Normal commuter traffic is also present in Archers Road, and can be very heavy, especially in winter and on rainy days. Morning (drop-off time) traffic is normally heavier than mid-afternoon (pick-up time) traffic.

With the help of parents and local residents we recorded near misses during the month of February 2019 (15 school days excluding half-term week). During this window we recorded 17 “near misses” – more than one a day – and were advised of one actual collision with a pedestrian – see link to Daily Echo below.

https://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/17425474.sue-kelly-hit-by-car-while-walking-her-daughter-home/

A second collision between a car and a pedestrian happened later that spring. Fortunately neither of these caused lasting injury, but we believe it to be only a matter of time before there is a serious injury.

Would a Banister Gardens gate be used?

A survey taken between 11th and 15th February showed that on average, approximately 100 children and parents walk past Banister Gardens on their way to school between 8.30 and 8.50 (other walk past earlier and later). A similar number was observed between 3.15 and 3.40. The majority of these live close by and travel from home on foot. The remainder park in Northlands Road or at the top of Westrow Road, and walk from there.

The survey also showed that there was virtually no vehicular activity to or from Banister Gardens at pick-up or drop-off times, so that – as long as other cars can be kept out – this is a clean, safe way to and from the school. On average one car entered the Gardens between 8.30 and 8.50, and two came out; in the afternoons, only one residents car was observed driving in the Gardens during pick-up time.

Park and Stride

We have started a Park and Stride system to encourage more families to park to the north of the school, in Northlands Road and Northlands Gardens, where parking is more readily available, to reduce the pressures on Archers Road. If the Banister Gardens gate was open, there would be greater incentive for families to use Park and Stride.

Click here to see our Park and Stride poster.

Air quality

An air quality survey conducted by a researcher from Southampton University showed that the NO2 (Nitrogen Dioxide) levels were consistently higher in Archers Road than in Banister Gardens. Breathing air with a high levels of NO2 can irritate airways in the human respiratory system. Longer exposures to elevated levels of NO2 may contribute to the development of asthma and increase susceptibility to respiratory infections, and people with asthma, as well as children and the elderly are generally at greater risk.

The full research report can be read here:

Why now? What has changed since 2012

Demographics

In 2012, we drew our children from a wide area of the city, as can be seen from this mapping of the postcodes of the 2012-13 cohort. (Click here to view.)

Banister is now the first choice of school for local families, and the vast majority of our entrants come from within 1 mile of the school. This can be seen in this mapping of the postcodes of the 2018-19 cohort. (Click here to view.)

Over 80% of our children arrive at school on foot (or cycle or scooter) because our families are local. While the school has more than doubled in pupil numbers since 2012, the number arriving by car has not shown any noticeable increase. We do not have travel surveys from this time, but the fact that car numbers have not increased proportionately can be seen in the parking at pick-up time. In 2012, there would typically be half a dozen cars in Banister Gardens, and more in Westrow Road, before the end of school. Now, no parents park in Banister Gardens at pick-up time, and the limited space available in Westrow Road is more than enough to accommodate pick-up parkers.

Green City Charter

Banister School is a founding signatory of Southampton’s Green City Charter, and we have drawn up our own Green Charter and Action Plan. (Read it here.) We are committed to playing our part to create a cleaner, safer and more sustainable environment. A key part of this is to encourage more children to arrive at school on foot. The steps we have already taken include setting up a Park and Stride system, running a pupil-led travel regular survey, with a rewards system, which is proving effective, and encouraging the use of scooters and cycles. Providing a less polluted, safer entrance to the school is the next step in our Action Plan.

Open Consultation Session

There will be an open session for anyone interested in discussing this proposal, from 4.00 to 6.00pm onTuesday 9th July at the school.