School Streets in Southampton step up a gear with three more schemes set to start in November

The initiative aims to create a safer and healthier school run

School Streets in Southampton

Three more Southampton schools are set to close their roads to vehicles in November as part of plans for a safer and healthier school run. Shirley Infant School, Freemantle C of E Community Academy and Mansbridge Primary School will all be trialling the ‘School Streets’ scheme, which aims to create a safer, greener and more attractive environment for local residents and families on the journey to school.

The scheme will see the roads outside each of the schools temporarily closed at drop off and pick up times and will be in place on weekdays during term time only. The initiative is being trialled by all three schools in partnership with Southampton City Council and Sustrans, the UK walking and cycling charity.

By removing through traffic, the road closures will provide additional space and allow families travelling to school to follow social distancing guidelines with greater ease. As well as offering a solution to these immediate challenges, the measures will also contribute to a safer, more pleasant environment to help encourage greater levels of active travel on the school run. The initiative therefore forms an important part of the council’s wider plans to tackle poor air quality and create a fairer, greener and healthier city.

The three latest schools to sign up take the total number of School Streets schemes in Southampton up to six, following the now permanent scheme at St John’s Primary and Nursery School and an ongoing trial at St Mary’s C of E Primary School. In September this year, Shirley Junior School became the third school to implement the measures and the first in the city to do so as part of the council’s Covid-19 response. St Monica Primary School, Fairisle Infant and Junior Schools and Sholing Infant and Junior Schools have all also trialled similar schemes as part of a national day-long event to celebrate the start of Sustrans’ Big Pedal challenge last year. Additional schemes are also in the pipeline for a further three schools in the city, with implementation dates to be confirmed.

Councillor Steve Leggett, Cabinet Member for Green City & Place, says:

“Congratulations and well done to all of the schools and everyone involved in successfully bringing a further three School Streets schemes to Southampton. The school run accounts for a significant portion of traffic on our roads at peak times so schemes like this are vital to reducing congestion across the city. By closing the roads outside our schools at drop off and pick up times, we can also give people more space to walk, cycle or scoot to school safely and confidently. This will translate into numerous positive benefits for our city’s air quality and people’s health.

With social distancing, the need for additional space now has an even bigger significance. The School Streets scheme in Southampton will ensure that we can adjust safely to the new norm and recover from the current challenges in a successful, sustainable and innovative way.”

James Cleeton, Sustrans director for the South of England, says:

“It’s so great to see Southampton City Council and these schools embracing School Streets.

At a time of physical distancing, the space gained by having a road free of vehicles is so important to help families get to school safely.

Previous School Streets schemes show that making this change creates a cleaner, and more pleasant environment outside the school, as well as improving road safety and air quality.

This all helps to increase the likelihood that children will walk or cycle to school, instead of being dropped off in a car. This means they get to experience the benefits that active travel brings to their health and wellbeing too.”

The closures outside all three schools are being implemented using Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders. This type of order allows schemes to be introduced on a temporary basis in order to assess their impact and effectiveness before a decision is taken on whether or not they are made permanent. Southampton City Council will be closely monitoring the changes, as well as feedback received from the general public. Local residents, families and businesses are invited to have their say and can share their thoughts on the schemes by writing to: School.Streets@southampton.gov.uk