PRESSING ahead with a Marston site for a new secondary school in Oxford could put pedestrians – including schoolchildren – at risk, a parish council has warned.
On Tuesday, Oxfordshire County Council's cabinet voted to sell the Harlow Centre in Raymund Road to the Department of Education to allow The Swan School to open there.
Concerns were raised at the cabinet meeting about the move, but councillors were told it was the only suitable site that could be found.
Old Marston Parish Council has revealed it wrote to the cabinet on the morning of the meeting to set out its opposition.
In a letter to the authority parish council chairman John Batey and clerk Tim Cann said: "The present access to the Harlow site and buildings is via a narrow lane which is at the junction of Raymund Road and the gates of St Nicholas Primary School.
"To have more traffic using this area for a proposed secondary school would, in our opinion, be dangerous and should not be considered for access at any cost.
"If the Harlow site was chosen, pupils would need to travel from across the city, mostly by car, increasing the already heavy traffic in the area."
The letter goes on to say: "Traffic is already gridlocked at peak times when school runs to St Nicholas Primary and The Cherwell School – less than a mile away – are taking place.
"The presence of an access to the proposed school off Marston Ferry Road would severely exacerbate the situation."
County council director of children's services Lucy Butler told cabinet members that the Government had done an 'extensive search' and that the Harlow Centre was it the best they had come up with.
The school is now scheduled to open there in September 2019 – two years later than originally planned.
The free school, which was approved in 2015, will be run by the River Learning Trust, which also runs Wheatley Park School and The Cherwell School.
County councillor John Howson also raised worried about traffic when he spoke at the cabinet meeting.
He said: "The Marston Ferry Road is already heavily used.
"The route is a key urban route to the John Radcliffe Hospital.
"Without answers to where the pupils will come from [geographically] it seems difficult to predict local traffic flows resulting from the building of the school, but such traffic flows there will be."
The school will have 900 pupils for 11 to 16-year-olds and may eventually have a sixth-form as well.
As a free school it will be independent from local authority control and will not have to follow the national curriculum.
The Department for Education are set to invest £25m on it, in addition to £4m for finding a new Meadowbrook College which is based at the Harlow Centre.
The county council will also contribute £2m.