Controversial school move plans reignite fears

Croydon Guardian: Christ Church Junior School in Elm Road, New Malden Christ Church Junior School in Elm Road, New Malden

Controversial plans to temporarily move a primary school onto a playing field have reignited fears over safety, traffic and overcrowding.

If approved Christ Church Junior School in Elm Road, New Malden will be relocated into seven temporary classrooms on the playing fields behind Mount Road for a year while the school is rebuilt.

The Church of England School was declared dangerous after wooden support beams were severely affected by damp, forcing the school to close for a week in November last year.

Some pupils were taught off site for half a term while steel structures were installed but engineers, who now visit every two weeks, said these will not last more than a year.

Mount Road resident Shaun Barrett said he was horrified by the plans as the area already experiences traffic chaos during drop off and pick up times associated with Christ Church and Corpus Christi schools.

He said: "This is supposed to be a temporary measure - but the chaos that will ensue gives rise to significant concern for the safety of children and all the residential stakeholders.

"By funnelling all these parents and children via the Mount Road access for the temporary classrooms RBK will be putting the safety of all the stakeholders at risk."

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Councillor Liz Green said the council would try their best to alleviate traffic problems and said alternative sites, including Christ Church vicarage and Cocks Crescent, had been considered but they were not suitable.

She said: "We really don’t have a lot of choice. We don’t have anywhere else really that is sensible to do it.

"I do have sympathy with the residents, it isn’t ideal moving it onto the playing fields, I’d rather not do that but I can’t see an alternative.

"We have to get the children out at the end of the year. It’s a case of bearing with us for now."

Coun Green said work would need to start on the temporary site at Easter but assured residents, pupils and parents there is no intention to have them on the temporary site for longer than a year.

It is hoped the temporary move will free up the junior school site allowing for a rebuild to take place, the details of which are to be decided. The infant school will not be affected.

A permanent version of the move met fierce opposition when Kingston Council wanted to expand the school on the same site, next to Corpus Christi primary, to ease overcrowding in 2010.

Protesters, who cited fears about road safety, traffic, loss of green space and breaches of covenants on the land forced a council u-turn but said the same arguments apply to the temporary move.

Councillor Lynne Finnerty led the campaign against expanding the school onto the playing fields permanently in 2010.

She said: "The same arguments apply to having a temporary village, as they are calling it, up there.

"There’s a loss of green space and these are really important - restricted access and road safety.

"I asked the council back in January what steps they were taking to find alternative accommodation. Nothing was done and now we are in this situation. I find it unacceptable really."

Comments (2)

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7:43pm Thu 15 Mar 12

WhatsHappening? says...

The photo showing the protestors outside Corpus Christi in 2010 is quite pertinent to this story. The rickety looking gates behind the residents heads is the one and only access point for vehicles and pedestrians to the proposed Christ Church school village. It is not some optical illusion or trick of the camera it really is that small (approx 4m). So this entrance will have to accommodate 240+ pupils etc and all vehicles. The one and only pedestrian entrance for Corpus Christi is between the posts of the sign which says Corpus Christi Primary School. In order to open up the new entrance to the proposed school village the safety fence the residents are leaning on, which is there to separate pedestrians from vehicles, will be taken down. The new road entrance will go over the point where the residents are standing and hence go right across the Corpus Christi pedestrian entrance. The only choice from Christ Church parents is move out from the building where the roof is falling down due to lack of maintenance to a site where they will have to risk life and limb to get to and with the development endangering Corpus Christi pupils at the same time. A stunning plan from The Royal Borough of Kingston, stunning.
The photo showing the protestors outside Corpus Christi in 2010 is quite pertinent to this story. The rickety looking gates behind the residents heads is the one and only access point for vehicles and pedestrians to the proposed Christ Church school village. It is not some optical illusion or trick of the camera it really is that small (approx 4m). So this entrance will have to accommodate 240+ pupils etc and all vehicles. The one and only pedestrian entrance for Corpus Christi is between the posts of the sign which says Corpus Christi Primary School. In order to open up the new entrance to the proposed school village the safety fence the residents are leaning on, which is there to separate pedestrians from vehicles, will be taken down. The new road entrance will go over the point where the residents are standing and hence go right across the Corpus Christi pedestrian entrance. The only choice from Christ Church parents is move out from the building where the roof is falling down due to lack of maintenance to a site where they will have to risk life and limb to get to and with the development endangering Corpus Christi pupils at the same time. A stunning plan from The Royal Borough of Kingston, stunning. WhatsHappening?

2:25pm Sat 17 Mar 12

WorriedElmRdMum says...

Why do the LA continue to ignore the views of local residents and parents in situations such as this? The one entrance to the site for the 2 schools will have to accomodate approx 700 pupils and staff -this will cause chaos and endanger the children, parents and residents. The pavements and roads are already heavily congested, without the relocation of the Christ Church Junior School, and the only real reference in the planning app to helping the situation is for 'walking buses'. This has been tried before, on a voluntary basis, and did not make much difference. The LA should be made to include definite plans for easing the congestion in their planning application - eg opening the pedestrian gate in Mount Pleasant Rd and making Part of Chestnut Grove/Mount Rd nearest the school pedestrian use only at school times (with resident and emergency access only).
Why do the LA continue to ignore the views of local residents and parents in situations such as this? The one entrance to the site for the 2 schools will have to accomodate approx 700 pupils and staff -this will cause chaos and endanger the children, parents and residents. The pavements and roads are already heavily congested, without the relocation of the Christ Church Junior School, and the only real reference in the planning app to helping the situation is for 'walking buses'. This has been tried before, on a voluntary basis, and did not make much difference. The LA should be made to include definite plans for easing the congestion in their planning application - eg opening the pedestrian gate in Mount Pleasant Rd and making Part of Chestnut Grove/Mount Rd nearest the school pedestrian use only at school times (with resident and emergency access only). WorriedElmRdMum

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