Car park compromise is reached for school

WH 141014 Queen Street car park, Broadwater. Residents petitioning against the potential sale of the car park, which could be sold in connection with the building of the new academy at Northbrook College. Catherine Bourner left and Barbara Cook. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-141014-145531001
WH 141014 Queen Street car park, Broadwater. Residents petitioning against the potential sale of the car park, which could be sold in connection with the building of the new academy at Northbrook College. Catherine Bourner left and Barbara Cook. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-141014-145531001

COMPROMISE between Worthing’s new school and residents fighting to keep access to a popular car park was reached on Tuesday night.

An agreement to house temporary classrooms for the new Bohunt school on the Queen Street car park took a step forward, with councillors agreeing to set up a short-term lease.

But following a 400-signature petition from concerned residents, a minimum of 20 spaces will be set aside for community use as part of any agreement.

Lead petitioner Catherine Bourner said: “We want the car park to remain as a free car park for the whole community to use 24 hours a day.

“We don’t want ownership to change as this will impact who can use it and when.”

The new Bohunt academy, being built in line with changes to the Worthing age of transfer system, will not be ready in time for the first students in September.

West Sussex County Council and school sponsors Bohunt requested to use the Worthing Borough Council car park to house the temporary classrooms, rejecting an alternative of Palatine Park, as it was too far away for children to travel to.

Head teacher Adam Whitehead told the Joint Strategic Committee: “Our concern would be parents would vote to leave the school if we end up somewhere away from Broadwater and that does have an implication for the successful start to the school.

“Our numbers are good but if we lose numbers because families want to pick somewhere where live that will affect the ability of us to offer a full option choice further down the line.”

Mr Whitehead said he did not believe the school would create traffic problems, with just 24 per cent of parents intending to drive their children to school. Most also live in the Broadwater area.

A lease will now be drawn up between the parties for temporary use of the car park, with planning permission now required for the classrooms.

In the long-term, the car park could be used for staff parking, while still retaining community spaces. Councillor Val Turner said: “I feel we have got compromise.”