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RVC parking plan "agreed"

Cars parked along Hawkshead Lane
Hawkshead Lane parking

A plan has been drawn up to try to alleviate the parking problems in Hawkshead Lane, where itís claimed up to 130 cars have been parked at any one time.

According to the local MP, Grant Shapps, a meeting of interested parties agreed that the parking situation in Hawkshead Lane is unacceptable and that action is required to solve the problem as soon as possible.

Attending the meeting were representatives of the Royal Veterinary College, Hertfordshire County Councilís Highways Department, Welwyn Borough Council, Hertfordshire Constabulary, the Hawkshead Lane Residentsí Association and the local MP, Grant Shapps.

The following minutes from the meeting are reproduced, as published, from a post on the MPís website.

RVC parking meeting - Friday 6 March

It was acknowledged by all present that the parking situation in Hawkshead Lane is unacceptable and action is required to resolve the problem as soon as possible in view of the considerable inconvenience to residents, RVC staff and students and passers-by.

The RVC has doubled in size over the last 10 years. Currently 800 staff and 1900 students (5 years ago there were 400 staff and 700 students). These numbers relate to the College across both campuses and not just Hawkshead.

The RVC is expanding and the number of students will increase by 100 to 2,000 shortly.

The RVC are proposing to build additional accommodation and parking for 140 students within the Campus.

The number of cars parked in Hawkshead Lane varies from days to day and is at its peak between September and June when there can be up to 130 cars parked in the Lane at any one time. There is no problem with parking at weekends and during the summer months.

Generally it was considered that more parking spaces should be provided by the RVC to accommodate the present overflow, but other measures are necessary to improve the use of bus services otherwise the problem would be likely to return, particularly as the RVC expands further.

The RVC pay £90,000 p.a. for a bus service which only 20 students use regularly. Approx 100 students cycle to the Campus. More would cycle or walk if there were proper cycle paths and footpaths that were properly lit. It is unsafe to walk along the unlit Lane in the dark, particularly for female staff and students. The footpaths are poorly maintained particularly the line path from Brookmans Park Station and the conditions in wet weather mean the paths are used less in wet weather.

The cost of providing a fully lit cycle path along Hawkshead Lane was considered to be impracticable as the Lane is too narrow and it would be prohibitively expensive. However improvements could be made.

The students do not use the current bus service provided by the RVC. The bus takes a route to the Campus in the mornings, again in the evenings and additionally to Tesco and the station at lunchtime and. However students choose not always to remain on Campus throughout the day and would like the flexibility to leave before the 5pm bus. It would be necessary to timetable buses to leave the site several times throughout the day but this would substantially increase the cost.

There was a suggestion that if more regular buses could be provided the students could be charged a fixed annual sum for a bus pass which would encourage them to use the service.

Hertfordshire Highways are prepared to work with the RVC students on a travel plan, and will undertake to look at cycle paths, pathways and lighting to see what improvements can be made.

According to Grant Shapps, a five-point plan was put to the meeting and agreed.

  1. A Green Travel Plan to be prepared by the RVC for approval by the County and Borough Councils and Students. Ian Mehrtens has already drafted a travel plan which has been discussed with Herts County Council and a researcher from the University of Hertfordshire. It was agreed a green travel plan will be prepared by the RVC and submitted to the County Council by 15 May 2009.

  2. RVC to submit a Planning Application for 150 additional parking spaces potentially on land to the east of the Queen Mother Small Animal Hospital and west of the railway line by Summer 2009. This location is outside the Major Development Site boundary and the Outline Planning Application boundary and so "special circumstances" would have to be demonstrated in order for the Application to be successful. Suitable parking survey material will have to be provided with the Planning Application and Jeff Cutler will consult with residents and provide Ian Mehrtens with any useful data on the number of cars parked daily. This will be added to information further research carried out by the RVC. If the Council approve the application, construction of the additional parking spaces could potentially take place by the end of 2009.

  3. Clearway Order. There was a discussion regarding parking restrictions. Bollards could be put on grass verges but that could just extend the parking further along the road, impinging on even more residents. Yellow lines could be put down: double yellow lines require no signage but single yellow lines require posts and signs so are more expensive to install and maintain. Both of these solutions would be unusual at this kind of location and would require Experimental Traffic Orders to be placed. An alternative is for an Application to be made for a Clearway Order which would prohibit parking along the Lane between the signs at either end. It was hoped that there would be no objections to this from local residents as the parking situation has now become intolerable. The County would need to consult the residents and it was suggested the Clearway Order should be applied for at the same time as the Planning Application for additional parking spaces i.e. by Summer 2009.

  4. Active enforcement through RVC. Professor McKellar confirmed that, if the above measures are implemented, once the additional parking spaces are made available for use, the RVC would be prepared to implement new rules for students who would be subject to disciplinary action if they park vehicles in the roadway or grass verges along Hawkshead Lane. Craig Woodhams confirmed such action would be supported by the Student Union subject to these not being introduced until the additional parking spaces have been provided.

  5. Police to assist with initial enforcement. A clearway order can in fact only be enforced by the police and will require their support. After an initial period with the college and police actively engaged, clearways usually become self-policing.

On his website, Grant Shapps says he emphasised the importance of everyone taking the required action within the agreed timeframes to ensure the success of the plan which should hopefully resolve the parking issues, perhaps as early as the end of 2009, if the time table can be met.

You can discuss this issue in this site's forum. 9 March 2009

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