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GUEST COLUMN: Zoning the way

Leonard St Hill

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THE MINISTER of Education is invited to take urgent action for implementation of the zoning of schools in relations to the residence of pupils enrolled. This is the most obvious means of improving productivity nationwide by reducing traffic congestion and time wasted in commuting children who should be walking in safety to their neighbourhood school(s).
Discussions need to be held with the Town & Country Planning Advisory Committee with a view to the adoption of recommendations by the minister responsible for enforcement of the statutory provisions for regulating subdivisions for residential purposes in accordance with prescription of Community Planning criteria viz:
“Determining the siting of community facilities, including shops, schools, churches, meeting halls, play centres, and recreation grounds in relation to the number and sitting of (dwelling) houses.”
Desirable action will entail reassignment of pupils to existing school buildings nearest their homes, as well as reconstitution of schools by staffing and possibly name in addition to the establishment of new schools in the appropriate neighbourhoods or precincts.
The practice of granting planning permission of residential subdivisions without regard to density affecting provisional standards prescribed for community development should cease.
It is inconceivable that a Government-aided development of 1 000 houses could have been permitted without specific provision for the location of schools within the area.
The Cave Hill Master Plan embracing the Cave Hill Campus, West Terrace, Oxnards, Husbands and Wanstead conceived in 1964 has been mutilated to the extent that its original objective has not been realised to this day. The “villages” and other major housing developments of National Housing Corporation (NHC) are following suit with utter chaos as the inevitable consequence of the single-minded proliferation of houses without the necessary basic community facilities.
It used to be an excuse that the Housing Authority was not equipped to develop anything but houses. That defect was supposed to have been rectified by the creation of the Urban Development Corporation to supplement residential development with the necessary community facilities by agreements with property owners.
That collapsed under the obsession with building more houses. The current Urban Development Commission is still building and repairing houses for the NHC, missing the wood of its existence for the trees.
And so from year to year, three times a year, we will marvel at the ease that school holidays bring to traffic in the City, but we will do absolutely nothing to implement the obvious solution to the perpetual problem.