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“It will be like living next to a motorway!”: Residents oppose school’s BMX cycle track project out of fears that they’d lose their “peace” and “privacy”

The school insisted that it wants to encourage healthy lifestyles and active travel for its pupils, but the £150,000 project hasn’t gone down well with the nearby residents

A school’s bid for setting up a BMX track for its primary and secondary students has been met with opposition from the nearby residents who have claimed that the “noisy bikers” will disturb the peaceful atmosphere of the neighbourhood and it will be like “living next to a motorway”.

Folksetone Academy, a mixed secondary school and sixth form academy in Folkestone, Kent, had submitted plans to build the facility, consisting of a 480-metre trail split into two loops and a free-flowing area with jumps and obstacles and costing £150,000, on a section of its campus close to the back gardens of the houses in Grasmere Gardens.

However, Kent Online reports that residents have not been too keen on the project, which the school has confirmed will be used by its primary and secondary pupils under the supervision of a teacher, as it wants to encourage healthy lifestyles and active travel amongst the students.

Kevin Black, who has lived in Grasmere Gardens for 20 years, said: “I don’t think the impact on the community has been considered — it really is the wrong area for it.

“You might as well build a motorway back there with all the noise it’ll create. This is a very quiet area, but now we’ll have a BMX track 20 metres from our house. Not enough thought has gone into this.”

> Britain’s “most expensive street” bans cyclists and pedestrians – after complaints about “dangerous” cyclists causing “near misses” and putting residents and diplomats “at risk”

Other neighbours also expressed their concerns that their privacy would be invaded by cyclists performing jumps and peering over their fences.

Emma Black said: “Who are these people who are looking straight into our houses and seeing what we’ve got? When you’ve got a great big bike track on your back fence panel, you aren’t going to be able to sell this place.

“I’m not against it. Kids need something, but it’s too close to our houses.”

Folksetone Academy (Google Maps)

Folksetone Academy (Google Maps)

Patrica Hart, who has lived in Grasmere Gardens for more than 40 years, remembers when concerns were raised about the construction of the school itself. But the 66-year-old said residents were at the time consulted more and had their views listened to before the Academy opened in 2007.

“Last time, we felt like we had a voice and could pull them up on a few things,” she said. “We had lots of consultations about the school, where everybody could ask questions, and we could work out compromises between us all.

“Originally, they wanted a path coming right against our fence, but we argued over why it needed to be so close. We came to an agreement, and they moved it back.

“But this time, we just had a letter with a QR code, and we had less than two weeks to submit our views. Some neighbours were away. They could’ve come and spoken to all of us.”

> Parents angry that children are being taught to cycle in middle of lane and other “risky behaviour” by cycling instructors, says Bikeability

According to the application submitted by Folksetone Academy, which has also submitted plans for the UK’s first school skate park on its campus, the track be available to supervised groups or clubs from Monday to Friday between 10am and 6pm, and at weekends from 10am to 4pm.

The school already teaches skateboarding, and the principal hopes that with the sport’s growing popularity a future world champion could come from the town. However, residents have fewer concerns about the skate park as it has been positioned further away from their homes.

Turner School Trust, which overlooks Folksetone Academy, said in a statement that it hopes to address neighbours’ fears about the proposed scheme. A spokeswoman said: “We are very excited at the prospect of bringing the sport and exercise opportunity this development would provide to our students and the community, encouraging healthy lifestyles and active travel.

“The mountain bike track would be used by both primary and secondary pupils in supervised sessions covering PE lessons and lunchtime, after school and Saturday morning clubs. We also propose that it be made available for managed, wider community use, much like our other sporting facilities.

“The use will also be limited by natural light with no proposed extra lighting; the surface will be constructed from sustainable compacted type 1 stone with additional trees/foliage to be planted around the area.

“Track users will be able to access the same toilet facilities with external access that are currently used by other users, and the Trust is proud of the cleanliness of its current facilities.”

> School bike racks destroyed by speeding, out-of-control motorist, as pupils and teachers stage protest demanding introduction of 20mph limit

In February this year, Bikeability warned that despite record numbers of schoolchildren being taught to cycle in the UK, fewer young people are riding their bikes regularly due to concerns from parents about the behaviour of motorists on the road and the lack of safe, protected infrastructure.

The national cycle training scheme’s chief executive also said that she had received complaints from parents that children were now being taught “risky behaviour” by cycle instructors based on the revised Highway Code, and were teaching them to cycle in the middle of the lane to make themselves more visible to motorists when approaching junctions, traffic islands, or while riding on narrow roads.

And just yesterday, Kensington Palace Gardens, a half-mile-long tree-lined avenue in London, dubbed Britian’s most expensive street and ‘Billionaires Row’ thanks to its £35 million average house price, banned cyclists and pedestrians after complaints about “dangerous” cyclists using the street as a cut-through and putting residents and diplomats “at risk”.

The street had long been closed to motorists, with pedestrians and cyclists until this week able to enter at any time through gates guarded by sentry boxes at either end of the avenue.

However, on Wednesday the Crown Estate, which owns and manages the avenue, closed the road to pedestrians and cyclists “due to safety concerns”, with members of the public now unable to use it until a review is completed.

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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36 comments

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to marmotte27 | 1 month ago
10 likes

marmotte27 wrote:

I don't see how a BMX- track promotes active travel. If anything it reinforces the idea that bikes are toys.

More likely that it reinforces the idea that bikes are fun. If kids are using a BMX on a track, they're also going to be riding it elsewhere and so they're very likely to use them for active travel.

I really can't see a downside for getting kids to use bikes more.

Avatar
KDee replied to marmotte27 | 1 month ago
6 likes

It was the BMX that got me into cycling back in the 80's. I can't be the only 40-something that has the BMX to thank for that. 

Avatar
LordSandwich | 1 month ago
12 likes

It's really sad that this country has become such a nation of NIMBYs. The rest of the world is streaking ahead of us, while nothing is ever allowed to be built in this country because it might offend a person who might live nearby.

Avatar
belugabob | 1 month ago
7 likes

This is the same estate - sorry "unique community" -that's right next to a business park and cricket pitch.
However do they put up with the sound of lorries coming and going or the thwack of leather on willow?

Avatar
KDee replied to belugabob | 1 month ago
6 likes

I wonder how many of them of them mow their lawns with a noisy, smelly petrol powered mower.

Avatar
ktache | 1 month ago
11 likes

The residents have forgotten to complain about the extra crime the cyclists will naturally bring to the area.
Whenever I get any sort of air, very rarely these days, I'm desperately looking for a landing rather than being nosey into surrounding gardens and houses...

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