Agenda item


St Mary’s Junior School, Silkham Road, Oxted, Surrey RH8 0NP


For the construction of two single storey extensions to the two existing classrooms blocks, a new single storey studio block; associated external works including a new path to improve accessibility across the site to link with adjacent Downs Way Infant School; and surface water flood mitigation measures.


Two update sheets were tabled at the meeting.  These are attached to the minutes as Annex 1 and Annex 2.


No members of the public registered to speak on this item.

The Local Member did not register to speak on this item.



Dawn Horton-Baker, Principal Planning Officer

Toni Walmsley Macey, Transport Development Planning Officer

Nicola Downes, Transport Development Planning Officer

Caroline Smith, Planning Development Manager

Nancy El-Shatoury, Principal Solicitor


Key points raised during the discussion:


1.    The officer introduced the report.  Members were informed that a full educational needs assessment had been submitted alongside the application which demonstrated a clear need for the additional school places in the area.

2.    The application proposes three extensions to the school to provide an additional four classrooms and a studio space, and formation of a raised earth bund to create a flood storage area.

3.    Members were informed that ten letters of objection had been received, predominantly raising concerns around increased local traffic and difficulties with access and parking at drop off and pick up times.  It was explained however, as that the impact of increased traffic was confined to short and distinct times of day and not at weekends, this was not considered to be a severe impact to warrant the refusal of planning permission. The officer confirmed that the proposed application would generate an additional 54 car trips in the morning and 44 car trips in the afternoon.

4.    As the application will require the development of a full travel plan as part of the conditions, it was considered that this was an opportunity to positively influence parental behaviour and to reduce reliance on cars in favour of other modes of transport to school.

5.    Members stated that the most important aspect of travel plan was to ensure that the school will enforce the plan in the long term.    

6.    Officers explained how the new online travel plan system allowed for monitoring to be carried out and targets to be set.  However, Members were concerned because the scheme was voluntary, schools would not ensure robustness of the plan.  Members stated that monitoring and enforcement had to be taken seriously by the headteachers, including on-street enforcement and naming and shaming for bad behaviour.

7.    The Planning Development Manager explained that the Regulation 3 monitoring officer would ensure conditions were being complied with in respect of the council’s own planning applications.  The officer explained that there was a developing issue regarding the enforcement of school travel plans that were part of planning conditions; and that a meeting was scheduled to ensure the correct action was being taken.  The protocol was approved by this Committee in September 2017 and this would be the next step in enforcing such matters.

8.    A Member highlighted that the report stated that there had been eight personal injuries in the vicinity of the school and questioned the timescale in which these incidents had occurred and whether anything could be learned from these and potentially addressed within the travel plan.  Officers responded that as part of the transport assessment provided, the details of the accidents were all due to driver behaviour and dated back as far as 2013.  It was confirmed by officers that only two children under the age of 16 were involved in these accidents.

9.    Members noted the footpath that would link the school with Downs Way Infant School as part of the amalgamation as of September 2018 would potentially reduce double drop off traffic.  The two schools currently had separate vehicular access, however the footpath will allow for parents with children at both the infant and the junior schools to walk between the two rather than drive to each drop off separately, alleviating some traffic pressure.

10.  In response to the Principal Planning Officer’s explanation that the travel plan was drawn up with various information that the school would not have until the new pupil intake in September 2018, a Member highlighted that the first preference data provided in the report indicated that the school had a good idea of the catchment of its new cohort and therefore the school should be able to start making progress on its travel plan sooner.

11.  A Member raised concern with the amended condition 12 on the update sheet, in that the number of cycle spaces was being reduced from 15 to 12.  It was suggested that this number should remain at 15 and the decrease in spaces was concerning.

12.  The Chairman informed the Committee that in light of the discussions, officers were proposing to revert to original conditions 7 and 12 to ensure the plan was in before occupation and cycle spaces back to 15 not 12.

13.  There was discussion around the level of enforcement and seriousness taken by schools in general regarding travel plans.  A Member stated that she was aware of schools who named and shamed bad drivers and had teachers out in the streets enforcing the travel plan.  The Member added that, as schools continue to get larger, there would be a bigger impact on communities and therefore it was important to influence driver behaviour in the present.

14.  A Member of the Committee stated that practicalities around policing travel plans was difficult as there was no legal requirement for them.  The Principal Planning Officer confirmed that travel plans were not compulsory.

15.  The Chairman declared a vague interest in that he was involved in the Safe Routes to School group in Fetcham and explained that re-educating new cohorts of parents over the years had been challenging to keep up with.

16.  Members questioned how the school will deal with additional staff parking, given the fact that the staff numbers will increase in line with the additional pupil cohort.  The Transport Development Planning officer suggested that parking should be achievable across both school car parks as part of the amalgamation, however in line with the travel plan, teachers would also be encouraged to car share, walk or cycle where this was possible.  It was suggested that given the amount of books and work teachers carry to and from school, walking or cycling may not be as achievable for school staff.

17.  A Member sought clarity regarding the proposed change in the wording of the conditions.  It was explained that additional pupils could be accommodated within the existing school buildings until the extensions are complete, therefore it was considered to be an acceptable amendment to the wording.  The Member added that it seemed to be right that the travel plan should be in place before the extra cohort of children appear.

18.  Having reverted to the conditions 7 and 12 on the original paper, the Chairman moved the recommendation to permit.  The Committee voted unanimously in favour.




That application TA/2018/92 be PERMITTED subject to the conditions and informatives contained in the report and the tabled update sheets, with the exception of conditions 7 and 12 of the update sheet which were not accepted.


Supporting documents: