Friday 9 January 2015

The case for deferring decision on Welsh School build in King Edward VII Park

I have tried on Wembley Matters to enable debate and dialogue over the planning application for the London Welsh School to relocate to the Bowling Green in King Edward VII Park. As with many planning applications the general public were unaware of the plans.

This will be a difficult decision with the protection of green space and the preservation of a unique institution apparently in conflict.

A glance back at comments on the earlier coverage on this blog will indicate that new information has emerged during the discussion and further suggestions have been made that are not in the officers' report.

The Welsh School is a charity, along with other independent schools, and charges fees. The school however prides itself on never turning a child away so fees are reduced for those in need. However the school has applied twice to become a free school and if successful  would receive funding directly from the DfE. It is not clear whether they will re-apply.

The Gladstone Free School had plans to build on open sports space adjacent to Gladstone Park and this was opposed by local residents and the school withdrew. Gladstone would have been a much bigger school but free schools being built on open space is a controversial issue.

Clearly the Planning Committee would need to be mindful of setting a precedent that may open the way for other applications and the importance of protecting Brent's parks and open spaces.

There has been some confusion over which ward is affected. The Bowling Green, Park Lane school and the land between them are in Wembley Central ward. The rest of the park, including Collins Lodge and the land swap site, are in Preston ward. The houses on Park Lane, opposite the park, are in Tokyngton ward. So far only Sam Stopp. Wembley Central ward councillor has made a submission to the Planning Committee and will be speaking at the meeting. (email address below)

One suggestion has been that a possible alternative site in King Edward VII park that would be more accessible. This is on the disused yard next Collins Lodge. It has also been suggested that the Pavilion would be better used as a community facility for Wembley Central residents. The question has been asked as to why the availability of the Pavilion for other uses has not been made known to residents.

There is some confusion about the school's use of the Bowling Green itself - the planning application is only for the Pavilion and the land between the Pavilion and Princes Court back gardens. The Chair of Governors of the Welsh School in a blog comment said the bowling green itself was not in their  demise but elsewhere there is an assumption that the children would use it.

There has been a flurry of late support for the planning application, many of whom have links with the Welsh School and praise its provision.  Although labelled 'Comments from Neighbours' many are from much further afield. One postal letter of support mistakenly names Barham Park as the site of the Pavilion rather than King Edward VII Park. An early support statement that appeared under a name at  28 Princes Court has been removed from the Council. A neighbour checked at the address and found that no one of that name lived there and the occupants hadn't submitted a statement of support.  Brent Council, rather strangely, accounted for  its inclusion an as 'administrative error'. Other submissions from Princes Court are in opposition. Sports England are in touch with the Planning Officer and will make a submission by Monday.

My personal view is that because of the wider implications of this application, confusion over the detail, possibility of an alternative site within the park, and lack of public knowledge about the proposal, the Planning Committee should seriously consider deferring a decision on Tuesday.

Comments can still be made up to Monday midday to

The site visit is tomorrow (Saturday) morning at 9.35am

The application will be heard on Tuesday at the Planning Committee, 7pm, Brent Civic Centre. Residents can apply to speak for 2 minutes and applications have to be made 24 hours in advance.
Apply to:

To view the on-line comments so far follow this LINK

Standing orders for the Planning Committee (explains how it works, speaking rights etc)  LINK

Planning Committee Code of Practice LINK

Cllr Sam Stopp is still keen to received comments from residents:


Anonymous said...

A very good summary Martin which brings every concern to light.- Brent does need to defer their decision and allow other parties an opportunity to submit their application making it a level playing field and a fair process.

Its clear the school has an agenda to ensure its survival, yet they failed to share what attempts have been made. Its takes people opposed to the decision to find this out, yet in their statement placed on the blog it was not mentioned.

Anonymous said...

A document attached with the rest of the planning information has a long list of alternatives that the school explored.

Anonymous said...

The school has not sbown honesty. Failure to disclose their failed free school application!!!

Anonymous said...

The school has not sbown honesty. Failure to disclose their failed free school application!!!

Anonymous said...

The list of some 98 alternative sites the school say they explored include sites as far as Kent, East London, Hayes, Greenford...and others outside Brent. So why does the school not go to Ealing, Harrow or indeed outside of London all together to Kent?

Anonymous said...

Yes, well summed up Martin. You have covered all the issues brilliantly. Let us hope elected councillors will see sense and defer until they are able to answer those points. After all, is this country not a democracy with a fair and just planning system or are councils allowed to get away with effectively giving public land to whichever organisation they want to? Will any other councillors stand up for King Edward VII Park and open space or will they burry their heads in the sand? Let us remind the councillors that elections are coming and the residents of WEMBLEY will not forget or forgive them for not representing us!!

Anonymous said...

Or Patagonia ..........

Anonymous said...

Elections? When?

Anonymous said...

If you read the reasons those sites were ruled out, they're on distance, as well as other issues. The school has been in Brent since 1958 - the only reason they're in this position is that they're being thrown out of Stonebridge. These are not welathy parents, and most are very local.

Anonymous said...

If the sites were ruled out on distance then in my opinion they are not valid to be included in the list because they were never really a truthfully viable option. If the school has been in Brent since 1958, where was the school before that? Let me remind all readers and Wembley residents that the King Edward VII Park celebrated it's 100 years centenary in 2014. The park was opened in 1914. So the park has been around for 100 years and the school being in Brent since 1958 is far too short a number of years in comparison. The school, should they be granted planning permission, will not be welcome by many Wembley residents in the park location. I feel very sorry for the school. Brent Council have failed in providing them an adequate new location that does not adversely impact on Wembley and Brent residents. BUT, the school can look elsewhere. WHY BRENT??? WHY DO WE BRENT RESIDENTS HAVE TO LOSE OUR BOWLING PAVILION AND SOME OF OUR 100 YEAR OLD PARK to this INDEPENDENT FEE PAYING SCHOOL????

Anonymous said...

Seems that the only Councillor who is being proactive on this matter is Sam Stopp, the others seem to have buried their heads in the sand!!!! Why I wonder????

Anonymous said...

The school is a private business in the education sector and that needs to be made more apparent using the label charity is false as all Independent schools are registered charities. Who has made several attempts to gain Free School status. They have no place being housed in the park.

The fact that they have not been planned for should be highlighted. The council are fully aware of the schools existence and that its the only one of its kind, but yet it was not planned for in all the building works that is taking place in Stonebridge where its currently based. Development of Stonebridge has been ongoing for several years.

I think the answer is glaring - It's an Independent School!!!! and is not funded by the public sector and are responsible for it's own accommodation and running costs.

Anonymous said...

The school has been very sneaky in its approach.

Martin Francis said...

As moderator I have published this comment because I think readers are entitled to know the depth of feeling on the issue. However on the net the use of capital letters is seen as the equivalent of shouting. Let's keep to a calm and reasoned debate

Anonymous said...

I agree stating the parents aren't wealthy is not a just reason. It's a matter of choice they have chosen to send their children to a fee paying school.

The locals are not against the site being developed but it should reflect the needs of the community - an INDEPENDENT School - HAS NO PLACE ON LOCAL PARK LAND!!!!!!