Car restrictions along congested school street in Brentwood agreed

Stringent restrictions of cars along one of the most congested school routes in the country is to be brought in to improve safety for children and their parents.

Essex County Council is to remove 26 waiting and parking spaces on Sawyers Hall Lane, in Brentwood. All but one of which had already been temporarily removed – thereby effectively making the temporary change permanent.

The authority says this will make the temporarily widened footway permanent and deliver the fundamentals of a School Street – a road outside a school with a temporary restriction on motorised traffic at school drop-off and pick-up times.

One of the main problems that residents in the area have to deal with is school run traffic as parents picking up their children usually park on the side of the roads, and a Channel 5 documentary aired in 2018 highlighted locals’ plight.

‘No Waiting at Any Time’ restrictions will also be installed to deter vehicular parking and to keep the carriageway clear of congestion during school drop-off / pick-up times.

This means ‘Limited Waiting between Monday and Saturday, 9:30am to 4:30pm, 2 Hours No Return Within 4 Hours’ will be revoked to be replaced by ‘No Waiting at Any Time’.

A statement as part of an Essex County Council decision which has been agreed said: “This measure is expected to continue to deliver a range of benefits, which will encourage students (and parents) to walk and cycle more, in turn delivering long term improvements to health.

“The provision of the widened footways will create more space for students and parents and will make the whole area safer during school drop-off and pick-up times.”

The cul-de-sac just outside the centre of Brentwood is in the unusual position of having six schools on its length – St Thomas of Canterbury C of E junior and infant schools and St Helen’s Catholic junior and infant schools, Grove House School, Becket Keys C of E Secondary School.

A non-statutory public consultation on the proposed sustainable scheme for Sawyers Hall Lane saw 76 per cent of respondents supporting Essex County Council’s proposal to support pupils to walk and cycle more, by reducing traffic levels near to schools.

As part of the plans Essex County Council will also be introducing alternative parking at several ‘Park and Stride’ locations at the car parks at William Hunter Way Car, Chatham Way and the Brentwood Centre – all within one mile and to be operational from September free for parents at school drop off and pick up times.

A number of other behaviour change measures including a project delivered by national charity Living Streets to encourage more walking to school and a behavioural change project supporting Walking Buses will be encouraged.

A statement added: “Sawyers Hall Lane contains six schools and it is one of the most congested school routes in the country and illegal and dangerous parking behaviour is common.

“The number of schools on this congested cul de sac mean that it is well suited to the principles underlying School Streets which are designed to help reduce emissions around the school gates and support pupils and parents to walk and cycle more.”

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter