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Free schools risk causing congestion and parking problems

16 December 2010
Plans to exempt new “free schools” from planning requirements could lead to councils being unable to control congestion and parking problems around new schools, according to Campaign for Better Transport.

The charity is also warning that the plans, outlined in a consultation by the Department for Communities and Local Government, run counter to the Government’s own “localism” agenda.

In their response to the consultation, which closed on December 10, Campaign for Better Transport called on the Government to ensure that the planning system can be used to support the appropriate location of new schools and to help encourage children to walk or cycle to school or use public transport. This would also have benefits for reducing congestion, with up to one if five cars at peak time on the school run.

Richard Hebditch, Campaigns Director at Campaign for Better Transport, said: “We totally reject the idea that free schools should be exempt from planning permission. There is already a huge problem with term-time congestion and parking near schools because too many parents have no option other than to drive their children from the front door to the school gate.

“The Government’s aims of reducing carbon emissions and promoting healthy lifestyles run counter to a move that allows free schools to be located in places which encourage car dependency among their pupils and staff. The current planning system can help ensure new schools have good public transport links that help reduce congestion and encourage children to walk or cycle to school. The Government has already acknowledged that local people are better placed to make planning decisions than civil servants in Whitehall and free schools should be no different.”

Notes to Editors

Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).

The Department for Communities and Local Government consultation on planning and free schools

Read our response to the consultation

Statistics on school run and travel to school