Letter Sent to the South Croydon Ward Councillors 13 October 2022 objecting to Melville Avenue turning into a Healthy School Street

October 2022

Dear Michael, Maria and Danielle,

Croydon Council is proposing that Melville Avenue becomes a Healthy School Street and therefore access to non-residents is restricted during school opening and closing times. It is claimed this will make for safer and quieter streets and therefore encouraging more walking and cycling resulting in healthier pupils and better air quality.

I do not believe any of these objectives will be met in any significant way to overcome the inconvenience involved for many of the residents in Melville Avenue and the surrounding streets. This view is shared by many other residents.

Melville Avenue, Castlemaine Avenue and Croham Park Avenue run in parallel between Croham Road and Coombe Road. They are linked via Ballater Road and Binfield Road. My view is that if the scheme goes ahead the vast majority of the traffic that currently enters Melville Avenue will go via Castlemaine Avenue and Croham Park Avenue instead.

Why do we think this? We conducted a survey of the traffic going along Melville Avenue on Thursday the 6th October (attached). Of the traffic in Melville during the proposed restricted periods 239 cars dropped off or picked up pupils with 125 for Old Palace Junior School and 114 for Coombe Wood School. This was out of a total of almost 1,600 journeys – so around 15% of journeys were school drop offs or pick ups. The numbers are below.

Results of Traffic Survey of Melville Av, Castlemaine Av and Croham Park Av on Thursday 6 October 2022. A Term time day with no rail or tube or tram strikes.

Traffing Turning INTO Melville Castlemaine and Croham Park Avenues
 From CoombeFrom CrohamTotal
08:00 – 09:30   
Melville Av0247247
Castlemaine Av20878286
Croham Park Av105185290
14:00 – 16:00   
Melville Av15450204
Castlemaine Av22549274
Croham Park Av148142290
AM + PM   
Melville Av154297451
Castlemaine Av433127560
Croham Park Av253327580
Traffing Turning OUT OF Melville Castlemaine and Croham Park AvenuesIns less Outs
 Into CoombeInto CrohamTotalTotal
08:00 – 09:30    
Melville Av1686223017
Castlemaine Av7519627115
Croham Park Av204101305-15
14:00 – 16:00    
Melville Av24550295-91
Castlemaine Av3019522549
Croham Park Av14312626921
AM + PM    
Melville Av413112525-74
Castlemaine Av10539149664
Croham Park Av3472275746
Notes: The Numbers look consistent : Well done Peter, Helen, Angela and Sharon (and her CPA team) We would ecpect more cars into the network than out AM and for this to reverse PM as teacers and others park AM and then un-park PM The number of cars exiting Melville into Coombe turning right was 67 AM (40%) and 107 PM (45%) The number of drop offs/pick ups outside Coombe wood School was 66 AM and 48 PM The number of drop offs outside Old Palace Junior School was 80 AM / 45 PM, (62 AM / 30 PM from cars going towards Coombe and 18 AM / 15 PM from cars going towards Croham) Only 129 AM / 94 PM of the cars in the network are dropping off or collecting pupils.

Why do we think most of this traffic will divert? There are three reasons for this.

Old Palace School is a private junior school and nursery with a large catchment area. This cannot be ignored. I spoke to a parent who said he came from Shirley with no realistic other way of his daughter getting to school. He said he would have to park either in Castlemaine Avenue or Croham Road or come earlier. I suspect most will.

For Coombe Wood School parents currently driving up Melville, I cannot see that parents dropping off or or picking up in Castlemaine Avenue will be much of a deterrent for them as Castlemaine Avenue is less than 400 yards from the Coombe Wood School gates via Ballater Road and is less than 150 yards to the school gates from its junction with Coombe Road. This latter distance is closer to the school than locations along Melville Avenue where many of the cars dropped off/picked up during the survey.

Lastly all the cars not dropping off will mostly be commuters. This is the majority. Closing Melville Avenue to them will also force the overall majority into Castlemaine Avenue and Croham Park Avenue.

However I agree Melville will be safer. But Melville is already safe – whereas the Castlemaine/Coombe junction is not (as per crashmap.co.uk).

Before I go to the downsides, I am interested in what targets you have for sustainable/healthy journeys to school. There were at maximum about 120 pupils dropped off / picked up at Coombe Wood School from Melville. Now that is 120 of around 1,250 pupils so I would say the vast majority of pupils are already choosing either to walk, cycle or use public transport – as the school said they would do when it set up. Well done to all of you at the school. So what is the Council’s target!

Now for the downsides to the scheme. If our survey is representative and our assumptions are correct you are going to increase the traffic in Castlemaine by around 95%. This will increase queuing time whilst exiting Castlemaine Av to greater than currently from Melville and Castlemaine. Therefore your overall intention of improving air quality will not happen.

The other downsides are of course for residents having to arrange permits for themselves and for visiting trades people and helpers whether professional or family. We have many older people and some disabled living in Melville (and Castlemaine Avenue and Croham Park Avenue) who need a multiple of helpers. One said to me this scheme is discriminating against the old and disabled. I agree.

If you want to be sure you will improve the already good sustainable journey percentage for Coombe wood school and to force Old Palace Parents to not drive you should include Castlemaine Avenue. However if you do you have to include Croham Park Avenue as well as traffic will increase there by 180% if all Melville and Castlemaine traffic go through there.

Whilst I applaud the aims of the scheme for our roads based on our experience and our survey numbers – it will not work in its current state. If you are determined to go ahead without Castlemaine and Croham Park Avenue I make two requests:

First you wait until the results of the consultation of the previous trial schemes – which the ended April 2022 – is published.

Second and most importantly please do your own traffic surveys before and during implementation of the trial period on our roads so we can all see your actual results and all be guided by them.

Finally if you insist on bringing in this scheme then I suggest you do not need to make Melville one way as planned as the poor behaviour caused by the small number of parents who reverse and u-turn whilst picking up at present will obviously disappear. Therefore the only remaining people going up Melville from Coombe Road during the restricted times will be the very small number of residents in that part of Melville.

However if you do not bring in this scheme then you can eliminate this poor parent driving by putting a traffic warden outside the school at 15:15. If will undoubtedly be revenue raising.


Jeremy Gill
*** Address ***

Jeremy Gill

Author: Jeremy Gill

Chair, CVRA