‘I’ve seen children nearly get run over’ – Lewisham headteacher talks about the need for zebra crossing

Ewhurst Road/Manwood Road Junction. Pic: GetacrossSe4

Campaigners gathered on March 20 to rally support for a zebra crossing at the Manwood Road and Ewhurst Road junction, outside of Prendergast Primary School, due to safety concerns for children in the area.

The school’s planning application recommended that a zebra crossing be put in place due to the increased number of children in the area, but this condition has never been met.

In the 10 years since, teachers, students and locals have been campaigning for a crossing to make pupils’ journey to and from school safer.

The headteacher at Prendergast Ladywell Primary School, Viv Nicholls said: “We definitely need a zebra crossing here… we are a full school, we’ve got over 400 children.

“Trying to get those children across Manwood Road is just so difficult. It’s really dangerous. On many occasions I’ve stood out here myself, I’ve seen cars speeding, I’ve seen children nearly get run over, it’s really really dangerous and we’ve fought for a long time with the local authority to try and get a crossing.”

Children campaign alongside parents and teachers with an inflatable zebra crossing. Pic: GetacrossSe4

GetacrossSe4 are a group that have been campaigning for the crossing to be installed. Their latest protest on March 20 saw them use an inflatable zebra crossing at the junction where they want a permanent one, to demonstrate how it would benefit the school.

Children chanted ‘we want a zebra crossing’ and held signs that read ‘Lewisham Council 10 years of promises.’

Nadim Baba, whose child attends Prendergast primary school and took part in the protest, said: “Every day we have to cross where we can but it isn’t easy. The fact that there is no official crossing means you’re trying to spot gaps and cars are going so fast so it’s impossible to gauge and try to help the children to learn how to gauge when it’s safe to cross.

“There are so many dangerous incidents I’ve seen and it’s really, really scary. We’d like our kids to be able to walk by themselves but at the moment, and I’ve said this to them, there’s no way that I could imagine doing that.”

The original planning application documents include an analysis of an accident that occurred prior to the school being built, at the junction in question, where a school pupil was hit by a car.  

Section of the Hyder Travel Plan found among the planning permission application documents relating to Prendergast Primary School.

The application was also discussed by a planning committee on October 24, 2013. The notes from the meeting say: “Given the significant increase in the numbers of students and staff attending the school and based on accident data in the vicinity of the site, a contribution is also required towards the provision of a formal crossing facility at the Ewhurst Road/Manwood Road junction.”

In order to obtain permission for the crossing, the notes explain that: “The applicant will be required to enter into a S278 agreement with the Highway Authority to secure the necessary parking controls/restrictions in the streets adjacent to the school and to secure the provision of a formal crossing facility on the Ewhurst Road / Manwood Road junction.”

Diagram showing site of proposed crossing in relation to Prendergast Primary School. Illustration: Molly Smith

In this case, the planning applicant for Prendergast Primary School was the Children and Young People Directorate of the London Borough of Lewisham. In practice this means that Lewisham Council applied for planning permission from themselves and are responsible for entering into the S278 agreement that would be necessary to build a crossing.

It is still unclear whether Lewisham Council would be liable for any accidents that happen at the junction given that they appear to be ignoring the advice of their own officers.

A Lewisham Council spokesperson said: “A number of measures have been put in place to improve road safety outside Prendergast Ladywell School… we will continue to explore options for additional pedestrian crossings in the area, subject to available funding.”

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