Saturday 4 January 2014

Expansion of Princess Frederica school proposed despite strong parent opposition

Princess Frederica  Cof E Primary School, Kensal Rise
The Brent Executive on January 13th will be asked to approve the expansion of Princess Frederica Primary School despite substantial opposition.

The school would grow from 420 pupil capacity to 630 by 2020 with some new build and partial demolition and rebuild of the present building.  The new build would include a roof top playground.

The Council argue that the expansion is needed to address the current shortage of school places due to the rising child population of Brent.

The Officers' Report LINK states that in the initial consultation 7 local residents were for expansion and 14 against, 3 parents were for and 22 against and 26 staff were for with 1 against.

Following the Statutory Notice during the four week Representation Stage  224 responses were received of which 16 were for the expansion and 208 against.

These are statement from some of the objectors:
“I am writing to ask you to turn down the request for the school expansion of Princess Frederica. The local area and infrastructure will not be able to sustain the added congestion. Already both the pupils and local community are put at risk through the cramming of small pavements and roads. I would suggest a much better use of Brent’s resources would be to turn around the local schools in the area –meeting specifically Furness Road School.

Piling all the resources into one local school which for now is popular, shows no sense of long term  planning for the broader community.”

“- the proposal is far too large for the footprint of the site and the access roads in the surrounding areas. The works will cause severe disruption to the education and welfare of the children there in 2014 and the dust created by building work will create a health hazard for my daughter who suffers from asthma there are better alternative schools sites for building expansion in the vicinity, we have real worries about how the building work - dust, noise, heavy machinery is inevitable - will affect the education of the current children, and also that the pressure on space from the additional classes each year will affect the future education in the widest sense, as well as the logistical issues of safety in delivering and collecting a greater number of children from school each day.”

“College Rd & Purves Rd are narrow & bottle neck at the slightest provocation. How will they & their residents cope with the heavy lorries & construction vehicles that will be needed on top of an already precarious equalibrium? If, as I understand,  the admission criteria are not to change to include more children on proximity rather than church attendance, there will be more cars & bicycles at drop off  & pick up times. Bicycles are being stolen from the railings outside the school on a regular basis & campaigns for parking them on the school premises have failed for years for reasons of short space!”
 “I believe that the school facilities are already over stretched and the addition of more pupils at the expense of outside s pace does not serve the educational interests of the pupils. In addition, two years of packed lunches and studying next to a building site will not help the children's education
 On space the Council respond:
Design work shows that it is possible to fit the additional buildings/internal space needed for the
increased number of children on the existing school  site and leave sufficient outside play area to  meet guidelines.

The additional proposed roof top play area and changes to the surfacing of ground level play areas, mean that based on the government’s method for measuring outdoor play areas there is sufficient to meet guidelines for a 3FE school on a confined inner city site.

It is accepted that during construction the available outside play space will be reduced but this will be managed to minimise the impact on existing children.
 On parking and infrastructure the Council state:

There is no parking on the school site and no facilities to drop off children by car other than on roads immediately surrounding the school. The school travel plan will actively encourage a majority of parents to walk or  cycle to school with their children.Cycle and scooter storage will be provided on site to avoid congestion created on the pavement by cycles being chained up outside school.  

It is proposed to widen the pavement in parts along  Purves Road to alleviate pedestrian congestion.  

A full transport assessment has been undertaken and will be submitted with the planning application. LBB Highways will review the application in detail and make further recommendations if required to minimise the  impact of proposed expansion on the existing road network.

On the community's preference for a 2 form entry school the council gives no quarter and presses what it sees as the benefits of larger shcools and in a new departure suggests they are becoming the norm:

Brent has 12 successful 3FE primary schools and 6 successful 4FE primary schools. 3FE and larger primary schools are now becoming the norm across London. Larger primary schools have considerable advantages in being able to afford higher levels of expertise, including subject expertise in e.g. MFL.
They also offer a wider range of extra curricular and after school activities. Brent also has many primary aged children currently without a school place. The council has a statutory duty to ensure that there are sufficient school places for Brent residents who require a school place.
The Council say that it cannot changes the admissions criteria because the school is a Church of England Voluntary Aided School and therefore in charge of its own admissions. These currently give preference of church worshippers.

 Clearly this case raises issues that have been previously addressed on Wembley Matters over the optimum size of schools and the importance of play space. Most importantly of course it raises questions about consultation processes when, in this case, overwhelming views of parents as stakeholders are rejected.

The expansion plans will not be going to Planning Committee until June 2013 but the Council proposes that an additional 30 pupils will start in existing accommodation in September 2014 with the building works finished before the start of the 2015/16 academic year. The additional forms of entry will then gradually fill up the school year by year.


Anonymous said...

93% opposition? Almost certain to be approved then.

Anonymous said...

Disgusting but unsurprising that once again Brent Council fails to listen to the local community and continue to publicly lie. At a public meeting on 17 December Brent advised that the council would be recommending against the expansion. Children's education and welfare is being jeopardised by an inept and corrupt council.