Waltham Forest Council has backed cycling campaigners who are opposing plans put forward by Lion Academy Trust and Athena Academy to build two new schools on protected open space. The campaigners are concerned that Lea Bridge Road, which is part of Transport for London’s Mini Holland project, could see a significant rise in traffic due to parents taking their children to and from school.
Waltham Forest Cycling Campaign’s David Hamilton told the East London and West Essex Guardian that the land – a former Thames Water depot, opposite Lee Valley Ice Centre in Lea Bridge Road and adjacent to a nature reserve – was “in the middle of nowhere.”
“We feel that building a school there will be very dangerous. The entrance to the school will be a very busy cycle route and will see a lot of drop-offs and pick-ups for the children.
“It is not a school that is close to houses, it is in the middle of nowhere so parents will more likely drive their kids to school.”
In a letter to the developers, Fred Smith, chairman of the campaign, said: “We are most concerned that the new school design could pose a risk to pupils and members of the public cycling if there is significant traffic turning across the Lea Bridge Road cycle tracks.
“Even though the former Thames Water depot was responsible for a relatively small number of motor vehicle movements across the existing cycle track, it was considered one of the most hazardous sections of Lea Bridge Road.”
The group say that the schools could undermine the purpose of the Mini Holland, which they describe as “money well spent”.
In contrast, a petition signed by more than 6,000 people was recently presented to the Mayor of London claiming that congestion and pollution had “increased massively” on Walthamstow roads as a result of the scheme.
The London Evening Standard also reports how campaigners in Enfield have claimed that 38 out of 50 businesses surveyed in Winchmore Hill have reported a fall in takings since the Mini Holland in that area.
In response, a spokesman for Sadiq Khan said: “The mayor fully supports the roll-out of Mini Holland schemes in Enfield, Kingston and Waltham Forest as part of his bold plans to make London a safer and easier city for cycling and walking.
"Alongside more segregated cycle lanes, and banning the most dangerous lorries from London’s roads, Mini Hollands and Quietway routes play an important role encouraging more people to walk and cycle in their local neighbourhoods, improving quality of life for everyone.”