Bridge would ease safety concerns at site of new school

W04342H14-NorthbrookTraffic''GV of Traffic on Broadwater Road outside Northbrook College in Broadwater. Worthing. ENGSUS00120140128171738
W04342H14-NorthbrookTraffic''GV of Traffic on Broadwater Road outside Northbrook College in Broadwater. Worthing. ENGSUS00120140128171738

A BRIDGE over the A24 should be considered to alleviate safety concerns posed by the proposed building of a new 900-student secondary school, councillors believe.

Plans are under consideration to build the new academy on the Northbrook College site alongside the busy A24 Broadwater Road by 2015.

But Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee expressed concern that a bridge was not under consideration by West Sussex County Council, with a puffin crossing the preferred option.

Councillor Kevin Jenkins said failure to find a suitable solution would be ‘subscribing to casualties’.

Speaking after the meeting, he said: “We are aware that at times children will take the shortest route across the road, which may not be a crossing point.

“The ideal solution is a bridge but we recognise the cost may be prohibitive and may be a longer term solution.”

The committee considered a planning application last Wednesday.

But while it made a list of 18 recommendations, the final decision rests with the county council, which will approve or reject the plans on October 9.

The puffin crossing would be installed near the Queen Street junction.

And with the school site lacking suitable playing field space, the Manor Sports Ground could be used, increasing the need for a crossing point.

The potential use of the ground has proved unpopular with many residents, who feel they have been kept in the dark about the idea and could be banned from dog walking there.

The council was keen to stress, however, that negotiations were ongoing.

Jane Coburn, 48, of Sompting Avenue, said: “I think if they are entertaining the idea of completely restricting access, that is a massive loss to the community.

“I am not against the school. Worthing obviously needs it. But a compromise would be for both the school and the community to use the ground.”

Another key issue focused on the possible use of Queen Street as a car park and drop-off point.

Representations from residents included the fact the car park was well used by residents and community groups, while the street could get blocked as parents drop off children.

Catherine Bourne, of Queen Street, said: “My concern is that it is presumed the car park is not being currently used. If it was taken away, Queen Street would become totally impassible. You would have uproar.”

The new school will enable the age of transfer changes in Worthing to take place, operating initially with 360 year seven and eight students in a phased intake.

The planning committee voted unanimously to raise no objection to the plans, subject to the consideration of the 18 recommendations.

The new sponsor of the school has been confirmed as the Bohunt Education Trust, which runs an outstanding school in Hampshire.

Jeremy Hunt, cabinet member for education and skills, said: “As well as an excellent proven track record in performance, Bohunt brings with them numerous areas of expertise including a strong focus on languages. I have every confidence in their abilities to serve young people in the area and know they will complement the network of excellent schools we already have in Worthing.”