Friday, 4 February 2011

Brent Primary School Expansion Plans Threatened

Brent's primary school expansion programme is in turmoil following indications that the government timetable may not be met.   The government grants have to be spent by August 2011. £2.932m to be spent on the Islamia Primary School  in Salusbury Road, Queens Park, may now be spent on other schemes as the Council consider there 'is no longer enough time for the school's scheme to be completed to a phase which would allow the money to be spent by the deadline'.

The building of a new two-form primary school on the site of Preston Manor High School may also be delayed despite the fast-tracking of planning consultation: planning permission had been sought before the Council's Executive Meeting on February 15th considers the results of statutory consultation.

The Council has established that there may be restrictions on the use of the school's land through a historical covenant.  The covenant reads:
No building shall be erected upon the land or any part thereof except a private dwelling house or private dwelling houses with or without rustic summerhouses, motor-care houses, cycle houses and greenhouses appurtenant thereto or pavilions in connection with a Sports Ground.

No trade manufacturer or business (except a Sports Ground) shall be carried on upon the land or any part thereof nor shall any building than that of a private dwelling house and appurtenances thereto...
 In a letter to residents (1) Matthew Lantos, headteacher of Preston Manor High School and Richard Barrett (Assistant Director, Regeneration and Major Projects) say that the view of Council officers is that the covenant was probably intended to prevent ad hoc commercial development and not to prevent the school's expansion.

They say an application to the Upper Tribunal to vary the covenant is likely to realise a positive outcome. The school intends to make an application to modify the existing covenants by seeking to limit the use of the land for Educational, Recreational and Community purposes only.

It is unclear how long this will take and there must be some possibility that it won't be successful. The original intention was to open the permanent new school in September 2011, thus meeting the August deadline. Any delay now pay impact on the timetable.

Several school building and refurbishment programmes have been affected by delays stemming from the council re-organisation last year which saw them moved from Children and Families'  Asset Management Team to Regeneration and Major Projects, coming under different assistant directors. This was compounded by the loss of key staff after council cutbacks.

(1) Letter dated 2nd February 2011

1 comment:

Sagar Shah said...

I'm a local resident and have not received letter (1) that you mention.

That said these same arguments were being made at a meeting the school held some weeks ago. There's nothing new here. Only then the line was that some sports body was likely to overrule the covenant if they gave some guarantees on sport stuff... perhaps not then ;-)