Is this Britain's worst road? Kettering parents furious at school access

Enraged parents whose children attend a Kettering primary school have hit out at the state of the only road leading to it.

By Sam Wildman
Friday, 29th November 2019, 6:00 am

Hayfield Cross School, on the site of the huge planned Hanwood Park estate, has been open since 2015 but the access road that serves it has been the subject of numerous complaints.

Now parents say it has got so bad it is "extremely dangerous" and has left cars with such damage repairs have cost hundreds of pounds - and is in such a poor state even the headteacher parks at the top of the road and walks down it.

One furious parent, who did not want to be named, said: "It's dangerous, extremely dangerous. Some of the potholes are 4ft wide.

Dozens of potholes line the road.

"Cars have lost their suspension, tyres have burst. There's people that have actually gone out and bought off-road vehicles."

Dozens of potholes have left the road resembling the surface of the moon, with drivers forced to weave across it in slow motion in an attempt to save their car's suspension.

The craters fill with rain when it is wet, leaving it impossible to see how deep they are.

Staff are parking at the end of the road to avoid having to drive down it and there is not enough space in the car park so parents are double parking at the end, causing gridlock with the nearby roadworks on Barton Road. Parents say they have been told not to park on the housing estate opposite by housebuilders Persimmon.

Hayfield Cross Primary School.

The access road has been repaired at least 15 times in the past two-and-a-half years - every single half-term - but every time the repairs crumble away and within weeks it returns to being a mess.

As well as the potholes, parents say it crumbles in the summer blowing dust and throwing stones up and any heavy showers wash away the non-parking side leaving deep ruts.

It frequently ices over without being gritted and weeds make it difficult to see traffic coming on Cranford Road. They raised concerns about how an emergency vehicle would access the school, which has been forced to close because of the impact of snow and ice on the road. It has also forced many of the 200-plus pupils to be late.

Another parent who was at their wits' end, who also wished to remain anonymous, said: "I wouldn't even call it a road, it's a dirt track.

Parents say the road is simply not good enough.

"Our complaints are falling on deaf ears. Nothing is being done about it and it's not good enough."

They added that the access at the end of the road is covered in mud leaving children but no choice but to walk through it, resulting in cars being full of dirt.

The road is unadopted - meaning it is not the responsibility of the highways authority Northamptonshire County Council - but the school's headteacher Craig Charteris said they had been supportive.

He said: "They are doing everything they can to keep it in a usable condition but it's a temporary road that, almost five years later, is still here."

There are plans for "proper" repair works in the next couple of weeks, where the top layer of the road will be stripped off and replaced.

But the same road will be the only access to the school until the permanent access road is provided when Hanwood Park routes access E (Barton Road/Warkton Lane) and access F (Barton Road/A14 Junction 10) are complete.

Mr Charteris, whose own car has been left with underside dents because of the potholes, said: "They are saying it will be by September 2020 but we want it ready as soon as possible."

Furious parents who contacted the Northants Telegraph have all said much the same thing - that the school which was graded good by Ofsted is fantastic but that the lack of action by authorities over the road is a disgrace. They don't understand how the school was allowed to be built without infrastructure in place first.

They say that Kettering Council, who granted planning permission for the estate which will eventually have more than 5,000 homes, should be holding developers Hanwood Park LLP to account about the state of the road.

Parents have created a template letter to be sent to developers and councillors outlining their fears and demanding action.

A Northamptonshire County Council spokesman said: "Hayfield Cross Primary School was built to serve future development within Kettering. The access leading to the school from Cranford Road was put in when the school was built. This is an unadopted road and is a temporary access to the school.

"We do understand the frustration of people using this access and want to do all we can to assist in making any improvements we can. We are liaising with all parties to look at what could be done to improve the condition of the road surface until the permanent access is constructed from within the new development.

"A permanent access will not be in place until these development works are completed."

A Kettering Council spokesman said: "The temporary road is owned by the developer, Hanwood Park, who have periodically, and in conjunction with the school and the county council, as education authority, inspected and agreed remedial work that is required.

"The borough council has continued to put pressure on the developer and the county council to maintain the road as required by the planning approval. The county council has more recently decided to carry out works itself to improve the road.

"This access was never intended to serve the school for the length of time it has had to be used and the school also has more pupils than was envisaged at the time the temporary road was put in place and has deteriorated more quickly as a result. The county council have advised that repairs to the road will be completed by their contractors shortly.

"The permanent road, which will link the school to the rest of the development, is due to be completed in 2020 at which point the temporary road will be decommissioned."

Alan Wordie, from developers Hanwood Park LLP, has been contacted for comment but is yet to respond