Pupils at one of Living Streets' WOW schools in Surrey who undertook a school route audit earlier this year have successfully persuaded local councillors to make significant improvements to their walk to school.
The funding they have won will not only greatly benefit children who attend two schools in the area, but also enhance the walk for commuters who need to reach the nearby railway station. This is what we mean when we talk about small steps leading to big outcomes.
Alison Brooker's daughter attends Bell Farm Primary School in Hersham, which just happens to be taking part in WOW, our year-long walking challenge.
Alison's daughter loves WOW, our year-long walk to school challenge. This gave Alison the idea to contact Living Streets about something that was bugging her about the walk to school.
Pupils at Bell Farm and Rydens Enterprise School, the secondary nextdoor, typically walk across Coronation Recreation Ground to get to school. Lots of other locals use it to get to work or access the railway station. It is an alternative to a circuitous route with narrow pavements and busy roads.
The lack of a formal path means wet weather can make this short-cut awkward and even hazardous. Yet parents were happier using this route as it reduces exposure to cars and fumes, as well as being quicker.
Our School Route Audits are tailormade for these situations.
Like our wonderful Community Street Audits, they allow local people to assess streets from the perspective of those who use footways - pedestrians, parents with buggies, people with limited mobility. By feeding back on the condition of pathways and the roads, safety, and convenience, the aim is to propose ways of making streets more encouraging for everyday walking.
Alison approached our regional coordinator, Victoria, who assisted 13 local people, including Bell Farm pupils, parents and staff, to undertake an audit last March.
Their recommendations were then taken forward by councillor (and fellow auditor) Mary Sheldon with the proposal to provide a purpose-built path through the Recreation Ground.
And we are delighted to report that in October the cabinet of Elmbridge Borough Council awarded £43,000 "to provide footpath improvements in Coronation Recreation Ground. This will include the creation of a surfaced route in the form of a grass mat pathway across the site and also an accessible all-weather, circular, surfaced grass mat path around the entirety of Coronation Rec."
Award made by Elmbridge Borough Council.
"Thank you for all your help and for producing an excellent report which most certainly helped us with our proposals."
Cllr Mary Sheldon, Elmbridge Borough Council
It's a truly fantastic outcome, and congratulations are due to all involved - to Cllr Sheldon for championing the cause, to Alison for bringing everyone together, and to the staff and, in particular, pupils of Bell Farm who helped build a winning case.
As Elmbridge Council say in its summing up, the improvements will benefit the wider community, enabling "schoolchildren and parents/carers to walk/scooter/cycle to and from schools and playgroups during all weathers, and for residents to walk to and from work or station across the park."
Get in touch
To find out about arranging a Living Streets School Route Audit at your school, please contact Simon Bromhead in our Development Team.
020 7377 4900 or 07714 616 585