Story: Lisa Harrison
Around 35 local people attended a meeting on 28th April 2008 to discuss the plans for the expansion of St Catherine’s School and the implications of it. The school is set to double in size and the Roe Lane community centre is to be demolished and rebuilt as part of the works.
The project was initially conceived as there was found to be a serious shortage of school places within Burngreave and the need to increase the capacity of local schools quickly became apparent. Including the space currently occupied by the community centre within the plans would mean that the school could expand without losing its play space, allaying parents’ concerns.
The meeting was attended by a mix of local residents and those involved in the planning process, including architect Derek Statham, representatives from the planning department and Burngreave councillor Jackie Drayton. St Catherine’s School headteacher Fiona Rigby was also in attendance. Groups currently using the community centre will be relocated to a variety of venues, including Sheffield United Football Academy and local schools. Those involved in the project are confident that they have now found confirmed temporary homes for all groups while building work takes place. The plans were explained to those present at the start of the meeting, showing the community centre in its new space at the heart of the school.
At this point the floor was opened to questions and comments. A Roe Lane resident commented on how difficult it is currently for traffic to get through during the school run. She said that her son has special needs and therefore takes a bus to school, and there had been an incident where his bus was stuck in the street for about 15 minutes trying to get through all the traffic, at which point children on the bus had become distressed. Her son had been hit amidst the chaos that followed.
Residents living around the school voiced their serious concerns about what effect the school expansion would have when there are already grave traffic issues in the local area. One local person described the current situation as “chaos”, and people complained of their driveways and garages being blocked by traffic on a daily basis.
It quickly became apparent during the meeting that there is a consensus amongst residents around the school that there is a very serious existing traffic problem, and that this needs to be addressed if the school’s expansion were to go ahead. Various ideas were put forward, including traffic calming measures, double yellow lines and residents’ parking permits.