Royal School owners United Learning (UL) has blamed residents’ “scaremongering” for potentially scuttling its plans to lift a cap on day pupils at the senior school in Farnham Lane.
More than 300 people have objected to UL’s plans to replace the existing limit of 200 day pupils at The Royal School in Haslemere with a new limit on vehicle movements.
UL says this is necessary to allow it to transfer about 100 additional students from The Royal Junior School in Hindhead.
But objectors, including the Farnham Bunch Lane Triangle residents association, say the plans – which include running a minibus shuttle from Weyhill – put pedestrians at risk. Crucially, Surrey County Council’s highways department has also objected on the same grounds.
However, continuing its increasingly bitter war of words with residents this week, UL has warned a refusal of its application to modify the school’s Section 106 agreement could result in a worse traffic situation than if it was agreed.
UL has previously accused those opposing its plans to replace a cap on pupil numbers with a cap on traffic movements at The Royal School in Haslemere of double standards – claiming residents had sold large gardens for ‘infill’ housing, already leading to increased traffic on Farnham Lane.
However, in last week’s Herald, retired journalist John Laurence shot back that there had been only six new houses built in the past 30-plus years in Farnham Lane.
He added the additional traffic caused by these homes was microscopic compared to the traffic that would be generated by 100 or so extra students being driven to and from the Royal School every day.
In response, UL this week accused Mr Laurence of being not an “independent journalist” but a “campaigner against our proposals” and claimed the “facts” about the increased number of dwellings were provided by the residents themselves.
Addressing Mr Laurence directly, UL said: “If he thinks the claims are ‘exaggerated and untruthful’, he should perhaps discuss this with his neighbours.”
The UL spokesman continued: “The point he overlooks is we will be moving the current junior school pupils up to the Farnham Lane site in September within the limits of our current Section 106 agreement.
“The point of the planning application is to enable us to manage total traffic in Farnham Lane when we do so.”
The school’s current Section 106 agreement states: “No more than a total of 350 pupils, of which not more than 200 shall be day pupils, shall attend The Royal School on the land at any one time.”
The UL application seeks to vary this to read: “On a daily basis, there shall be no more than a total of: 139 vehicle movements during the peak morning period from 7.45am to 8.45am; and 123 vehicle movements during the peak afternoon period from 4pm to 5pm.”
The UL spokesman continued: “The current scaremongering about this proposal which has so alarmed the residents is in danger of creating a situation where we will be unable to manage the increased traffic in September.”
Waverley has yet to set a committee date to determine United Learning’s application after delaying a debate in the wake of Surrey’s objection.