Saturday 5 March 2016

Ugly, expensive & unwelcome free school building in Brondesbury Park to be decided next week

A particularly ugly temporary school building has been proposed for a corner site in Brondesbury Park to house the Marylebone Boys Free School for just two years.  On its website the school explains:

We are delighted to announce that a planning application has been submitted for our second site which will be a brand new, purpose-built modular school building in Brondesbury Park. It’s on the site of the former Swiss Cottage Special School located on Brondesbury Park between The Avenue and Christchurch Avenue.

Although the location is not as close to our final site as we might have wished, we are delighted that it is on a plot which allows for modular construction (which is quick) and that there is good outside space on site and nearby.

There are good transport links via buses 98 (bus stop Christchurch) and 206 (bus stops N and S, Brondesbury Park/The Avenue), Queens Park station on the Bakerloo Line, and Brondesbury Park station on the London Overground.

This site has been planned so that if there are delays to our permanent site – which now looks certain not to be ready in time for September 2017 but will be completed during the school year 2017-18 – four year groups can be accommodated at Brondesbury Park.

There will be fully equipped science labs, a library and ICT resource centre, music practice rooms, design and technology as well as art, changing rooms and onsite sport, and full kitchen and dining facilities.
Although planning issues are important I find it extraordinary that the government, through its free schools programme,  has money to throw away on what amounts to a major building project that will exist for only two years.

It may be that after Marylebone moces on the building would be allocated to another free school project such as that for  the Avenue Special Free School LINK proposed by some existing Brent special schools.  However that is a smaller school with different requirements that is part of a hybrid development which also includes housing. LINK

 Transparency is not helped by the Council Planning site referring to the Avenue planning application (15/0169) as  situated at 3-7 The Avenue and the Marylebone application (16/0169) as Land at the Junction of Brondesbury Park and Christchurch Avenue.

Taxpayers will be paying twice for new schools on the site at the same time as local councils are banned from planning and building new schools.

The ostensible reason for Marylebone Boys School to move is that its present site couldn't house the September 2016 intake. Is it really likely that the temporary building above will be ready in 6 months or so?  Would it have been more sensible to suspend new intakes until the Marylebone Boys School new site in North Wharf Road in the Paddington Development basin is ready?

What is the total cost of the two buildings?

Although Brent Planning is advocating approval of the plan at Wednesday's Brebt Planning Committee (7pm Brent Civic Centre) there have been objections from local residents and Cllr Shaw:

  • Impact on parking for local residents, finding a parking space is already difficult and will be more difficult after the opening of another school.
  • The school will be disruptive even if only for 2 years – the previous application was for a limited number of children from Brent who would be bussed in so there would be minimal disruption.
  • The proposal is for 480 children making their own way, while 6% currently travel by car the school is expanding and the future number is unknown.
  • The new site is some way from its present site and catchment.
  • This number of staff and pupils would put strain on local bus and train services at peak times.
  • The noise level from 480 pupils in a residential area would be immense.
  • Local residents have no possibility of benefitting from this development as the school is for students living in Marylebone.
  • It is stated that pupils will be taken by double decker bus to sports facilities – there are currently no buses this size on nearby roads and this will add to disruption.
  • The four storey nature of the building will be imposing and completely out of keeping with the current residential buildings.
  • The area is at risk of total over-development, the current residents suffer with noise, traffic, privacy and parking being constantly eroded.
Cllr Shaw raised the following points: 
  • Unacceptable impact of traffic and pollution on the area from a school which is not for Brent residents
  • There are a number of major developments in the area which will also add to this.
  • Transportation has not provided any solutions to date.
  • Extra buses will be needed which will add to the chaos.
Full report HERE


ABC said...

So much for free schools responding to the needs of local people. This is disgusting.

Anonymous said...

This is an enormous waste of taxpayer money. Whilst I understand the school likely does not want to have a gap in years and would prefer to fill the school from the bottom, a little give from them would save the taxpayer millions.
They really ought to stay in the College of NW London until their new site is ready. This school traipsing about NW London is nothing short of an expensive nuisance.