As part of the Department for Education’s free school programme a new comprehensive secondary school in Rainham, Kent will be opened. Robert West were appointed by Bowmer & Kirkland to provide transport planning services.
The site of the proposed building has a railway line on one side and a busy A road nearby which has determined that there will only be one vehicular access point. A nearby junction is currently operating at capacity so a transport solution was required to accommodate the additional trip generation without causing inconvenience to local residents and ensuring safe and sustainable travel solutions are put in place. Additional local constraints included a hump backed rail bridge to the North, a residential road to the West and current pedestrian crossing points.
The school will open in September 2021 with 360 students and 60 staff growing to 1150 students and 120 staff in September 2026. The students will predominantly be living within 4 kilometres of the school.
Our team initially gained a clear understanding of the transport issues by working collaboratively with Medway Council and School Trust, to understand how many staff and students would be able to walk to the school, how many would not be able to and how they would therefore practically travel there.
For those travelling from further afield, bus routes to key areas were then identified. Next we undertook GIS modelling which demonstrated that the introduction of specialised bus routes could make a big and positive impact to the potential highway network implications. The introduction of these buses will decrease traffic at the junction which is currently at full capacity. Layers of buses were modelled along with their routes to assess how many cars this would take off of the road network.
Scenarios were tested utilising Medway’s Aimsun traffic model. During this process, we also obtained fresh data to update the Councils micro simulation models to enable oversight of a number of junctions at one time to help with decision making.
Attention then moved to the design and location of the access. A non-standard solution of a roundabout was proposed as it eliminated the need for traffic lights, thereby reducing both capital expenditure and traffic congestion, along with giving priority to local residents.
For pedestrians there will be two accesses and two additional crossing points in the form of zebra crossings along with traffic calming measures which have been specified.
Finally, our team looked at how much parking could safely be accommodated on site without unduly impacting congestion in the area as well as ensuring the plan allowed cars to flow in/out and around the site without blocking the access and subsequently impacting on local residents.
A Transport Assessment, Travel Plan, Service Delivery Plan and Car Park Management plan containing survey and modelling data were delivered to detail our findings to support the proposals.
During public consultation we received feedback that we answered questions using everyday language which ensured understanding and Planning Officers noted how hard our team had worked with Medway Council to provide the best overall solution.
Robert West’s Infrastructure team are currently undertaking the Section 278 design for the roundabout and access.
Enabling works at the site have begun the preparation for the school to open in September 2021 and we look forward to following the progress of this project.