Calls to grow 'park-and-stride' school scheme and use Heath car parks

Gareth Smith and daughter Ella, aged six, are two of the participants in the Park and Stride scheme from the O2 Centre Finchley Road NW3 car park. They are pictured with co-organiser Valeria Pensabene.

Gareth Smith and daughter Ella, aged six, are two of the participants in the Park and Stride scheme from the O2 Centre Finchley Road NW3 car park. They are pictured with co-organiser Valeria Pensabene. - Credit: Polly Hancock

The Green School Runs (GSR) charity is calling for car park operators around Hampstead to follow the O2 Centre's lead and back "park-and-stride" schemes aimed at reducing rush hour traffic. 

The Hampstead-based charity launched a scheme from the car park of the O2 Centre with the support of LandSec, which runs the centre, in September. 

Under the scheme, the operator offers free spaces, for parents who sign up, at school-run times.

Dads Gareth Smith and Dave Pharo told the Ham&High how the scheme had helped their families. 

Gareth said the school streets zone around South Hampstead School, where his daughter Ella is a pupil, felt like a big improvement. He said the scheme had made a real difference, especially as the pandemic has meant using a car rather than public transport for the commute. 


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He said: "From the car park it's just a short walk up the hill and across the road, it's a really easy." 

David said: "It's worked really well. With everything going on, and particularly during the second lockdown, my youngest has been a bit anxious about getting on the train, so previously it had been tough to find space to park. This is a real help."

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Valeria Pensabene told this newspaper GSR hopes to persuade the City of London Corporation (CoLC) to set up similar schemes at its Heath Brow and East Heath car parks.

But she said: "We've not been getting any traction with the City Corporation. We would like to sit down with them and work out what they can do."

Co-organisers of the Park and Stride scheme from the O2 Centre (left and right) Elaine Trimble and Valeria Pensabene, with participant Kapil Mathur.

Co-organisers of the Park and Stride scheme from the O2 Centre (left and right) Elaine Trimble and Valeria Pensabene, with participant Kapil Mathur. - Credit: Polly Hancock

READ MORE: Green School Runs team launch park-and-stride scheme with O2 Centre support

In the absence of any progress on that front though, the plan is to launch walking-bus schemes during the New Year.

She said the scheme has worked well so far, from the O2 Centre, but she said it is important to encourage parents to be responsible. 

She said: "We want parents to use the park-and-stride, but we need them to make the most of their places if they have them."

Asked whether the CoLC would work with GSR to help run park-and-stride schemes from the Heath Brow and East Heath car parks, a spokesperson said it had to prioritise making space available for Heath users and added it had "spoken with the charity on a number of occasions about ways in which we are happy to work with them on this issue".

The CoLC also working with Camden Council on improving the cycle network around the Heath and encouraging active travel among school children.

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