Many people come from outside the area to drop children at nurseries and schools. There are over 6000 children enrolled in schools and colleges on the Surrenden Campus alone (Balfour Primary, Varndean High School, Dorothy Stringer High School, Vardean VIth Form College and Downs Link College). Many parents of under 16 children drive in to drop them off creating road congestion, short term parking demand and poor parking behaviour. If parking wasn’t free, more of these people might walk, cycle or use public transport.
Post 16, some VIth Form students drive their own cars. As there is no student parking and insufficient staff parking provided on the Varndean College Campus, the college is a significant source of on-street parking demand in surrounding streets. This demand is for all-day parking.
Varndean College Travel Plan
Since Late 2017, SAPC has been attempting to engage with the Varndean College management, proposing that the college should develop a Green Travel Plan. Green Travel Plans are holistic reviews of the travel and transport demand created by schools, colleges, offices, hospitals... They are based on evidence about the types of travel and transport people use to access the facility. They include policies, incentives and controls designed to 'green' that travel and transport: maximising walking, cycling and use of public transport and minimising car borne trips. One key benefit of a Green Travel Plan for Varndean College is that it could reduce street congestion and on-street parking demand from staff and students currently travelling by car in the Surrenden Area. We have also flagged that with its extensive grounds, some element of on site parking provision could be provided there, improving the currently poor facilities for staff and providing opportunities for students who are disabled and do need to travel by car.
When planning permission was granted to Varndean College for a new science block in 2018, it was made conditional on the preparation of a new Travel Plan which had to be prepared in consultation with neighbouring businesses and the community.
In January 2020 a draft travel plan was submitted to the Council to discharge that obligation. Sadly, no community consultation seems to have occurred. The survey data referred to in the draft plan suggests an incredibly low level of car use by students. It does not propose to accommodate any student parking demand on site - even in circumstances where students are disabled and need a car to access their studies.
SAPC says that the draft plan is flawed. We do not trust the evidence base used to compile it. We say that the impact of the college on on-street parking demand is much higher than the plan suggests. We note that the plan has failed to take any account of the recent CPZ consultation in the Surrenden Area. If a parking zone were to be designated, college staff and students would have to pay for on-street parking. The draft plan would be out of date before if had even taken effect. We deplore the absence of community consultation around the drafting of the plan, and as this was a Council requirement, we say on this basis alone the plan should not be approved.
The details of the planning application to approve the travel plan can be seen here. The information there suggests that the application has been advertised and that the expiry date for comment was 21 February 2020. However, no site notices or neighbour consultations have been undertaken yet, points that we have queried with the Council. A decision is due to be made no later than 26 March 2020, and until a decision is made you can still submit your views. The SAPC response to the draft plan can be seen here.
SAPC urges its supporters to write to the Council at email@example.com, under reference number BH2020/00299 as soon as possible. Grounds for objection include expressing concern that the draft plan is inadequate and calling for the required community consultation to be carried out meaningfully, taking account of the outcome of the recent SPZ consultation, before the plan is approved. If this is done, a substantial contribution to parking demand in our area could be properly managed.
We say to the Council: Green Travel Plans are business as usual requirements for most large developments these days. Don't let the college be a bad neighbour and get away with bad parking practice by approving a bad plan.