© 2017 The Harpenden Society

Did you know that Luton Airport is proposing to double its passenger numbers to 18 million a year within twelve years? That’s double the present number.

Your Society has been thinking about the implications for Harpenden. Some residents of the town think that the noise from Luton Airport’s helicopters and planes is the price to be paid for easy access to convenient air travel. However many others find it intrusive and annoying, and are very worried at the thought of more nuisance from overflying aircraft and helicopters. Their sleep is disturbed, and during the day aircraft that do not keep to the correct flight paths interrupt their waking hours too.

BUT there is another very important factor that is often overlooked – road traffic to and from the airport.

We are all aware of the heavy traffic in and around Harpenden, but because cars heading for the airport are not labelled as such their impact on local congestion is not recognised. Two-thirds of Luton Airport’s passengers arrive and leave by road. Some of these of course will use the M1 but many passengers approaching the airport from other directions will use the A1081 or the B 653 (Lower Luton Road). Even if they park up in the Slip End Airoparks they will have driven through Hertfordshire to get to them.

The airport would like to see the proportion coming by public transport increase, but people like the convenience of car or taxi, and the shuttle bus from Luton Airport Parkway station is unpopular.

In calculating how many extra cars will be needed for the extra 9 million passengers we need to allow for some passengers such as business people driving themselves there and back. Business travellers are only 19% of Luton’s users, the rest being holiday makers who may well be driven by friends or family in order to avoid the high cost of parking. That’s four journeys per group: one there and one back at both the start and finish of the holiday.

So, to the sums: doubling the throughput of passengers will mean an extra 9 million people going out and returning. If two-thirds come by car or taxi as at present, then that is another 6 million on the roads. About a fifth of these would be business people who would probably not be sharing a car and would probably park it at the airport, so that would be 1.2 million road journeys. That leaves 4.8 million people, mainly holiday makers. We need to allow for some of them sharing a vehicle if they are travelling together, and for others whose journey is in a car or taxi that makes a return trip at the start and finish of the flight, ie two journeys per flight.

That could mean the number of car movements might be 3 million. Adding the two kinds of traveller together gives 4.2 million car journeys. Let’s assume that one third of these use the M1. That leaves 2.8 million extra vehicles on our local roads, equivalent to 7,500 per day. And that’s just the extra traffic caused by expansion of the airport – if these figures are right, we have 7,500 cars a day on our local roads already for people travelling to and from the airport.

Our roads were not designed for this level of extra traffic, and this is one of the reasons that your Society has objected to the expansion of the airport.

Richard Thomas, The Society's Vice-chairman, does the car-count that would result from the expansion of Luton Airport

Planes congest roads

Primary Priorities

Ben Bardsley, newly appointed Chairman of the Harpenden Parents Group, with whom The Harpenden Society enjoys such a fruitful alliance, has sent The Society a review of the outcome of the 2012 situation with regard to primary school places. Here is a brief digest of his report.

The number of yearly applicants for Harpenden primary schools has risen from 385 in 2007 to 518 in 2012. Harpenden Parents Group (HPG) had warned Herts County Council in Autumn 2011 that additional places would be required in 2012. Despite this, no additional places, beyond those already announced at St Dominic's (30) and The Grove (15),) were made available at the time parents applied for places. Confusion over the arrival of the Free School did not help, but as it became clear that the Free School would not be able to guarantee 60 extra places prior to allocation day in April, the local education authority had to find a solution.

They therefore decided to put in place a temporary expansion at Manland and Wood End schools. Rather than allocating these places on allocation day, they decided to leave 61 children without a place on allocation day and to allow all parents the chance of applying to the expanding schools. In HPG’s view, this was the fairest way to allocate the extra places, but it led to great stress for those parents who initially found themselves without a place. HPG feel communication could have been better.

After the first round of continuing interest, all parents were allocated a place.Although HPG had campaigned for Manland and Wood End to be expanded, they also wanted High Beeches and Crabtree to be expanded, as these are the nearest schools for the greatest number of children. More parents are travelling across town to Wood End and adding to traffic congestion. HPG will continue to campaign for extra places at High Beeches and Crabtree next year.

For the second year running, HPG obtained over 1000 signatures for our petitions calling on HCC to plan properly and provide places in the right areas of town where the demand is. In each case, the petition has been formally presented to the council and we hope these will help provoke the council into ensuring they are better prepared for the expected high number of applicants.

Ben Bardsley writes

I believe that HPG has had an impact. The county council has received our petitions for two consecutive years, the press recognise our existence and our role in campaigning for better school place provision and in our view, the 2012 solutions put in place were better than those for 2011, partly due to the 2011 campaign.

Herts County Council also better recognise us as a growing and established force in school place admissions. The Harpenden Society’s meeting in February gave us a platform and helped us raise our profile.

The meeting organised by The Harpenden Society between HPG and Herts County councillors and officers also helped. We have met with Herts C.C. a number of times during 2012 and I believe they do now listen to us more than they did last year. HPG’s membership continues to grow. From 70 members in September 2011, we now have nearly 240.

Theodora’s Journals

Readers will all recall the publication of 'Theodora's Journals' by the Harpenden and District Historical Society; we published details of how to obtain this attractive compilation by post a couple of editions ago. It is, for those living locally, more conveniently available, price £15, from the co-editor Amy Coburn who lives on Piggotshill Lane and may be contacted on 01582 460621

Winter 2012 Newsletter