Graveney School, one of the borough's most successful institutions, has developed initial plans for the permanent closure of part of Welham Road, so as to bring together the two sides of the site and create much-needed space to expand the school and its provision.
The school intends to build a new specialist facility for children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, which will not only provide new places for pupils with this condition, but also enhance the School's general capacity in supporting pupils with Special Educational Needs. As part of the plan, a large communal space will be opened up on the site, providing an impressive space in the heart of Furzedown that will be available to the community in the evenings and at weekends. Preventing cars accessing this part of the road would create a safer environment for the pupils of both Graveney School and Furzedown Primary.
While the project is undoubtedly a very worthy one, the Furzedown Conservatives recognise that the road closure could have some negative consequences, particularly if there are no alternatives to blocking pedestrian and cyclist access. Therefore, in December Dan Watkins and the Furzedown Action Team conducted a door-to-door survey of local residents on Welham Road and Nimrod Road. These roads were chosen as their residents would be most impacted by the closure of Welham Road, having to take alternative walking routes down Spalding and Southcroft Roads instead. Every household was approached and the schools plans and road closure outlined to them. The results of the survey were that 80% of the residents spoken to were supportive of Graveney's initiative.
Other interesting feedback received from locals living immediately around the Welham and Nimrod Road junction is that currently the crossroad there is a hazard with accidents regularly occurring at the start and end of the school day. Closing that section of Welham Road could therefore provide an opportunity to design a safer place for children to be dropped off.
Further details on the development will soon be forthcoming from Graveney, and a public meeting is being held on the 25th March for discussion. Dan will work with the School, local residents and the Council to ensure that any future consultation takes account of the views of the local community.
Dan and the Furzedown Conservatives are supportive of the School's initial plans, but are keen to hear from other Furzedown residents with their views. As such, please do complete the following survey: