A NEW secondary school due to open in Bicester has drawn up a travel plan to encourage pupils, visitors and staff to ditch the car and use eco-friendly ways to travel to the site.

Whitelands Academy in Kingsmere will open in September for Year 7 students only, before growing year-on-year with an eventual capacity of 600 students through to Year 11.

Run by The White Horse Federation Trust, one of the conditions of its planning permission from Cherwell District Council was that before the school opens a travel plan must be submitted and approved.

This is to reduce the number of cars driving onto small roads surrounding the site, and must be implemented within three months of the school’s opening.

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The academy wants the greatest number of students, parents, staff, and visitors walking and cycling.

It will therefore send a survey out to 30 parents in the first term to help it set targets, predict travel statistics as the school grows, and work out way to help parents and pupils use 'sustainable' transport.

The White Horse Federation said: “We recognise that parents have the right to choose how their children travel to school, but we also encourage parents and carers to embrace the fact that walking and cycling can have many benefits for their health, the environment and can help to alleviate traffic congestion at the school gates morning and afternoon.

“Although the school is not responsible for children during the journey to and from school, we aim to do all that we can to support parents to ensure the children have a safe route to school during these times.

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“Our commitment to promoting more sustainable modes of travel to our communities is of high importance. We know that through promoting healthier choices of travel to students and staff, visitors and community users we will increase well-being.”

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But with this first academic year seeing only Year 7 students attending – the youngest year group – a proportion will be accompanied on their journey to school by a parent or carer.

Its goals therefore reflect this – for example it wants no more than 50 per cent of students travelling to school by car for the first year and all parents to receive personalised travel planning advice.

Travel awareness will also be taught in the classroom and in assemblies.

The school also wants to encourage car sharing and aims to have 30 per cent of car sharing at peak times.

Whitelands Academy's long term target for school journeys made to the site is no more than 30 per cent of students arriving at school by car on a typical school day.

It believes towards 70 per cent of journeys will in the longer term be travelling from within the estate itself by foot or cycling.

The travel plan also outlines details of a Stagecoach bus service that links Whitelands with Bicester Town Centre as well as train services.

Cherwell District Council planning officers will decide whether to approve the proposed travel plan in due course.