Provision of local schools and sustainable travel routes to those schools
were one of the key concerns registered by people living in Kingsmead. Kingsmead only has one primary school located within the ward and most children living in the ward travel to one of the three local schools:
This is an article specifically about the issues with the existing walking routes from various points in Kingsmead to Simon Balle.
So what are the routes?
The current, direct paths to Simon Balle school from Kingsmead are:
Via the busy Ware Road, with a steep climb up Caxton Hill for those living around the Ware Road area
From Pinehurst either via Ware Road although this is a significant detour, or across the paths on Foxholes woodland then through Foxholes Business Park
From Foxholes across Foxholes woodland and then through Foxholes Business Park
From Woodlands Road and Woodland Mount there is a narrow footpath, across land owned by East Herts District Council
What are the problems?
The key issue is that all of the routes from Kingsmead involve walking through Foxholes Business Park (FBP) on narrow pavements that are often obstructed by parked cars. The roads and pavement on FBP have not been adopted by the County Council so there is no parking enforcement and many pupils and parents have confirmed that they regularly have to divert onto the road to get past the cars.
The routes across Foxholes woodlands is extremely muddy in winter and can be under several inches of water where the footpath crosses the bridge over the stream. It is not a Right of Way.
The routes from Pinehurst involve crossing the busy Stanstead Road and there is no crossing points at key locations
The route from Woodlands Road/Woodland Mount is very narrow, currently covered in litter and can be muddy plus it is not a Right of Way
So what's the size of the problem?
After a few enquiries last year we were given the following figures relating to active travel and attendance at Simon Balle:
Pupils living in Kingsmead - 250
Students walking/cycling to school - 840
Staff living in Kingsmead - 4
Staff walking/cycling to school - 12
Unfortunately there wasn't any figures as to how many Kingsmead children walk to school via the muddy paths across Foxholes woods then through Foxholes Business Park but we may undertake an 'on the ground' tally over the next few months.
And what's the solution?
After much cogitation and deliberation the KNP Transport and Parking Working Group came up with an integrated network of off road solutions; including the establishing of new Public Rights of Way, lobbying councillors to improve existing paths and, the most important because it provides a great off road route alternative to having children and young adults walking in the road, a new off road pedestrian and cycle route (PR3)
All of these will provide sustainable, active travel for the circa 250 pupils (and their parents) from Kingsmead to Simon Balle School in a mostly off road environment which will assist both physical and mental health.
Can this be a reality? Some of the routes are easier to achieve than others! We're talking with both County and District councillors about what can be done to improve PR2, PR4 and PR1 plus investigating the feasibility of PR5 which would be a new route. The implementation of PR3 will depend on the development of proposals for developing Caxton Hill; the current proposals for the development include a cycle and pedestrian path to London Road as part of the plans but, as with many developments we are waiting to see how the plans evolve with our fingers crossed that this vital, off road route that will assist so many of the children and young adults in Kingsmead to travel to school in safety and with less carbon impact!
Establishing the new route PR3 would provide a major improvement to travel to Simon Balle for the (based on a 50% active travel ratio) circa 125 pupils (younger ones with parents/caregivers) that would utilise the route twice a day. While the access for school users is the most critical providing this route would also provide enhanced active travel for other Kingsmeadians wishing to visit Balls Park and south Hertford plus links up with existing Rights of Way across the meads and the wider proposed and existing cycle route network around Kingsmead.
Thank you for the comment; it's worth noting that if the development on Caxton Hill goes ahead that as we understand current plans the new light industrial/commercial units will have access via Foxholes Business Park so this road will become more busy and parking may be more of an issue.
There will also be a few hundred more dwellings on Caxton Hill so a better way through to Simon Balle would also assist children/young adults in sustainable traveling to school.
The Caxton Hill scheme has been in redesign for a while so not sure of status; we are trying to find out
We live on Foxholes Avenue and have to walk us son through Foxholes Business Park. In honesty, although a pain, the parked cars on the kerb are generally passable. I have 2 main concerns on this route. Firstly, in Foxholes Business Park, cars, vans and lorries enter and exit at excessive speed. This urgently needs addressing. Secondly, and I have written to local counsellors with no joy, the pathway as you exit the business park to the crossing is narrow and dangerous with speeding motorists looking trying to get a jump on the roundabout. Numerous times, I've seen drivers brush or nearly mount the kerb that our children walk on. We need barriers installed here. I am disgusted that not one of the counsellors saw fit to reply. Welcome to contact me. This is a discussion I'd like to get involved in