The Two Mile Ash Environmental Group is a growing voluntary organisation that was set up some 18 months ago to safeguard and enhance the Two Mile Ash environment. The stimulus to our formation was the threat that we perceived to the village centre, arising from the taking up of green spaces to make way for traffic and the associated parking.
The consultation document on the proposed expansion of Two Mile Ash School raises many questions, including environmental ones. They concern the capacity of our community to accommodate a school that would grow to twice the size originally planned for, with all that would entail for traffic, parking and the safety and well-being of pupils, staff and residents. We also wonder whether our area is the right one to take such a large part of the predicted borough wide shortfall in places for 4 year olds? Should not the emphasis be on providing school places locally so that our youngest children can be educated within their own local communities? That was one important principle enshrined in the original planning of Milton Keynes which was seen as fundamental to the building of communities.
We in TMA are blessed by our excellent, successful schools which give our children such a good start in their education. But there has been a downside for our community as well. Past expansion that has brought in pupils from outside TMA and added a teachers’ training centre has worsened traffic and parking conflicts and acutely affects our village centre environment at arrival and leaving times. The ‘school run’ and school related traffic has damaged kerbs and verges and led to inconvenient changes to public transport, and beautiful trees have been felled to ease parking, spoiling the outlook of many local residents. It can also be argued that the additional traffic and parking pressure has made the village centre a less safe place for children (and adults) than it was.
So we wonder about the effect of a still larger school, with a further expansion from 720 to a possible 900 places. The limited consultation indicates that staff parking would be brought within the site and that there would be more access points to the school land. But while those steps might bring some gains to the village centre environment, we are yet to learn what the overall impacts might be. It seems inevitable that a larger development, with its Milton Keynes wide as well as local role, would generate still greater levels of traffic. However, the consultation documents are silent about future traffic levels and about how this and the associated parking would be managed.
TMAEG calls upon the school and the education authority to provide much fuller information on the implications of the proposed expansion for Two Mile Ash, its environment and its safety. The information to be provided should include a full traffic and environmental impact study. We would also like to see a proper evaluation of the alternatives to this plan; those should include an examination of the scope for expanding schools at the local level so that Milton Keynes’ youngest children can be educated within their own local communities.
The Two Mile Ash Environmental Group Committee
3 May 2013.