Monday 17 September 2012

Wembley Stadium Primary Academy/Free School a step closer?

Wednesday's Brent Executive will discuss a recommendation to acquire a site in Fulton Road, Wembley for a new primary school.  The site is next to the retail park on Engineers Way and is currently occupied by industrial units. The report admits, 'While this may not at first sight be the most prepossessing of sites for a junior (sic) school it could over time become a reasonable school site'.

This is because the draft Wembley Area Action Plan envisages changing current uses to mixed development with a large element of 'residential use'.Quintain estates have submitted sketches that show the school could fit on the site with play areas away from Fulton Road, Quintain intend to redevelop the edges of the retail park for different 'non-bulky' retail uses, parents could use the retail park's car parking to pick up and drop off children, and in the longer term the retail park will be replaced by housing and a park giving 'a much better outlook for the school'.

Brent Council is faced with two options regarding the proposal which relate to Section 106 agreements with Quintain signed in December 2011.

The first option proposes that the Council receives two payments of £1.25m in 2013-14 and 2014-15 which, with any interest must go towards education provision in the Wembley area.

The second option is for the Council to 'purchase' the industrial site, which has the same notional value as the Option 1 payments and so they argue, will be at nil cost to the council. Now holding the freehold they would have until 2030 to construct a school. Meanwhile they would gain rents from the industrial units which, apart from paying for any repairs or improvements, must be used for school provision.

The report says that under Option 2 they could choose to clear the industrial site for affordable housing as long as all proceeds go towards providing school places in the Wembley area.

The controversial issue of Brent Council  going into partnership with a free school provider is touched upon. The report states that the government has made it clear that new schools must be either academies or free schools but notes that 'the council has a period to 2030 in which to build a school on terms which it may support'.

There appear to be some risks inherent in the council's approach to the land acquisition.
Will the current occupiers be able to keep up their rents, maintain their tenancy in the current economic conditions? 
How much of the rent will be used up in repairs and improvements? 
How much compensation would they have to pay to the tenants if they decide to build on the site and will there be sufficient funds available for compensation from the rent the council has collected? 
How contaminated is the land from its previous industrial uses - particularly during the Second World War?
Will Quintain's housing development go ahead given the state of the building and housing market and Quintain's recent move into building student accommodation in the area as a more lucrative market?
 Some of these issues are covered in an Appendix 2 which is not available to the public

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