Friends of Havelock Recreation Ground is a group of local people committed to preserving and enhancing Havelock Recreation Group as a green open space that benefits the local community.
the Education Funding Agency offered Havelock Recreation Ground to La Fontaine free school to build a 630-child free school, leaving approximately 49% of the park free for the residents in two separate corners. Here we try to answer many of the questions residents have been putting.
630 kids plus teachers – plus the 78 kids and teachers in Little Learners all on the same site, they must be mad?
We couldn’t possibly comment on their mental state, but yes, the small site will be very crowded.
But they’ve said in their note for the 11 February 2015 Bromley Council Executive meeting that the only access to the site will be via Marlborough Road. Haven’t they seen the traffic at 8 am along Havelock Road?
Indeed, Marlborough Road will be the only access road, so imagine the traffic jams every morning and afternoon getting to and from the new school, and the existing Little Learners nursery on the same site – and not forgetting Raglan School less than 200 metres away. Plus traffic is already clogged along Homesdale Road and the A21. And Marlborough Road entrance is not wide enough for both a road with vehicles going in and out, and a safe path for children on foot or in buggies.
What if there’s an emergency and they need an ambulance or fire vehicle onsite during the morning or afternoon rush-hour? With 630 kids, plus staff, plus 78 kids in Little Learners, plus staff, won’t they be worried about access?
You make a good point. But I’m sure all those wise people over at the Council have already assessed these risks. They wouldn’t want any harm to come to the little ones.
But I go back to the traffic.
Yes, I know it’s bad. But one solution could be to ban any non-parents from driving along Havelock Road between 7 and 9 am, and 3 pm and 5 pm on school days. Easy when you know how.
So how did they light on our field?
Again the 11 February agenda item note is very strange. “The area of search meant that, effectively, it was not possible to find a suitable, undeveloped site which was free from any planning designation which would seek to preclude development,” it claims. But what does “effectively” mean? Was it possible or not possible? What was the “area of search”? And why did they only look at “undeveloped” sites, not at sites with existing buildings. Why rob us of our designated Urban Open Space and not some other Urban Open Space or brownfield site elsewhere in Bromley. We need to see the list of what other sites were considered.
And we don’t have much Urban Open Space round here.
Indeed, we don’t, as the 11 February agenda item makes absolutely clear. We are in an area already “deficient in local parks” and this will only make it worse. We love our field just as it is: plain, uncluttered, green and open.
How about the resident’s opinion?
Our three Bromley Town ward councillors have responded to the unexpectedly strong and angry local response, by getting it removed from the 11 February Bromley Council Executive meeting agenda so that local views could be taken into account.
So Bromley Council is now going ahead with a consultation among local residents?
The three ward councillors – though not Bromley Council – have launched a survey of local residents which reportedly has a 90%+ responses against building the school on the park. Following this, the local conservative association, with Bob Neill, have issued a statement at bromley-town-conservatives : of which this is an extract: “Therefore as much as we will be supporting the school in finding an alternative we cannot support the building of a school on this site. We will continue to work with and support residents in opposing the building of a school on Havelock Recreation ground. We have written to the Executive to request that they do not agree to the lease on the land in principle.”
So what’s next?
It is likely to be considered at the next Executive meeting at 7 pm on Wednesday 25 March. The agenda will be published on the Council website ahead of the meeting. So watch out for it, be ready to turn up in the public gallery (capacity: 150). Just remember to be polite. And sign the petition. And keep informed.
So nothing will come up before 25 March?
Don’t count on it. An extraordinary Executive meeting could be called at any time – with just 5 days’ notice. So keep an eye on the meetings list on the Council website.
Friends of Havelock Recreation Ground wish La Fontaine school all the best (just not on our park) – we understand that they want to be in a permanent building to be opened by September 2016 as they can no longer stay at Princes Plain after that. Plus if they don’t get at least initial approval by March 2015 what the Council’s 11 February agenda item rightly describes as “electoral purdah” kicks in. Any new government after May might not be so helpful to free schools
Unfortunately, La Fontaine have sold the idea of building to the current pupil’s parents. Understandably, these parents much prefer the idea of their children being educated in a school with a green field to the original concept of small free schools in unused office buildings.
The council felt obliged to consider the proposal as the EFA is prepared to lavish £325,000 of taxpayers’ money to “upgrade” facilities – but note we didn’t ask for these facilities (such as a cafe). The Council also faces a shortage of primary places, including where we are in Planning Area 4, which covers Bromley Town Ward (our own), Plaistow and Sundridge Ward and Bickley Ward.
But we’re right on the bottom edge of this Planning Area. Isn’t there somewhere more central where the need is greater, not 150 metres from Raglan primary school?
That’s a very good point you make. But the school want somewhere near central Bromley and close to Bromley South station, so the community it serves can access it easily.
Why, if it is meant to be serving local children?
Well, actually not. It’s not clear if even 50% of their entry would be drawn from local children: they’re a free school and can set their own admissions, you see. And when you take off looked after children, siblings and children of founders, only 50% of the remaining places are available for children determined by distance from the school – and if no one applies from Bromley borough they are perfectly free to take the next nearest children, even if they live in Canterbury and further. And we don’t know if enough local parents will want to send their children to this specialist school (in late October 2014 it had only 67 children spread over 4 classes).
The other 50% of the remainder – as at present – would come from, well anywhere in fact. Parents of children at the school currently come from Central London on one side and Warlingham on the other.
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