A PRIVATE school near Winchester has been criticised for its plans to expand its car park in an already congested area.

Twyford School has applied to the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) to extend its existing car parks and install new lighting.

Objectors have raised concerns over the lack of traffic plan, the increasing number of pupils and staff and whether the lighting will be dark sky compliant.

However, the private boarding and day school, just off Twyford High Street, believes its current parking facilities are “inadequate” and increased parking will help reduce traffic along the High Street.

Eight new mini bus spaces have also been proposed as well as four raised areas to control speed and provide pedestrian crossings.

Hampshire Chronicle: Parents and visitor car park designParents and visitor car park design (Image: The Genesis Design Studio, SDNPA planning application)

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Organiser of the Colden Common and Twyford Cycle Bus and parish councillor for Colden Common, Tony Higginson, said: “I am not persuaded in the absence of a clear travel policy at the school that everything is being done with the best interests of the community in mind.

“If such a local institution does not wish to lead on doing the best it can to reduce traffic and be seen to appropriately challenging its own current plans for active travel, then it cannot then be surprised that it will face objections from the local community.”

Steve Pullen, of Segars Lane, raised a similar objection, questioning whether more parking would be needed if more pupils utilised the cycle bus.

Mr Pullen said: “The school should take steps to introduce plans to actually reduce the amount of traffic accessing the school and lower the number of parking spaces not increase them.

“Every effort must be made to reduce car usage to protect future generations - this proposal will just encourage more cars.”

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Submitting her objection to SDNPA, Rosemary Harding, of Bourne Lane, said: “I do not understand why this school seems unable to be good neighbours, in what is a residential location.

“The traffic in Bourne Lane is terrible at certain times of the day, to the point that residents are queuing from the main road to get home. This is totally unacceptable.

“It’s in a conservation area but some of the exterior lighting is already very bright and appears not to be dark sky compliant. Altogether this is a very unsatisfactory state of affairs and asks more questions than it answers.”

Despite supporting that the new design “will improve pedestrian safety and the flow of traffic through the grounds”, Twyford Parish Council believes the school should be doing more to reduce its impact on traffic such as promoting car shares.

Hampshire Chronicle: Staff car park designStaff car park design (Image: The Genesis Design Studio, SDNPA planning application)

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Council clerk, J.P. Matthews, said: “The PC cannot stifle business development but it can suggest that mitigation is vital to reverse the adverse issues arising from the growth of the school.

“The school is unlikely to increase its boarding provision further which means a reduction in daily traffic is required.

“The Travel Plan should be produced and activated as a condition prior to approval being granted. A consequence of the increasing size and activity of the school.”

In response, architect Philip Blencowe, from The Genesis Design Studio, said: “The main purpose of these proposals is to make existing car parking areas fit for purpose and safe for staff and visitors to use during winter months and dark evenings. Although the parish council notes the increase in pupils since 2018, this application is not to cater to any further expansion.”

Mr Blencowe also assured objectors that lighting will be dark skies compliant.

To view the application, submitted in April, use the reference SDNP/23/01466/FUL on the South Downs National Park planning portal.