Report of public meeting held on Monday March 18th
Local people packed St Mary’s Church, Mortlake for a discussion hosted by the Mortlake Brewery Community Group (MBCG). The meeting heard evidence disputing figures from Richmond Council on future school places and learned about alternative sustainable solutions to building a new 1200 pupil school on Mortlake Brewery’s protected green playing fields.
Robert Orr-Ewing, MBCG Chair, explained that the 2011 adopted Planning Brief included a 2 form entry primary school for this site. Subsequently the Council required any new development to include a secondary school – without consulting with the community on this change. Three planning applications covering the brewery development were lodged in February 2018 with 432 objections and 16 supporters for the secondary school plans. Since the applications have been submitted, The Livingstone Academy has been identified as a potential provider of the school by the Department for Education and more recently a parent-led faith school, Thomas Cromwell, has also expressed strong interest. The MBCG called the public meeting to share its findings and concerns.
Local educationalist Geoff Woodhouse presented data and assumptions produced by the Council to support their case for a new secondary school in this part of the borough. Using accurate census data and reasonable assumptions of intake from other boroughs, he explained that the increased demand, rising in 2021 to a plateau and falling away after 2024, could be met by progressive expansion of local schools, Richmond Park Academy and Christ’s School.
Geoff Stanton, Educational Advisor, demonstrated that the assumptions around Sixth form numbers of 250 needed challenging. The viable number of 200 could only be reached by recruiting from Richmond Park Academy and Christ’s School who are currently developing their Sixth forms to reach this goal.
MBCG’s Architectural Advisor Peter Eaton said that that a new 1200 pupil school on the Mortlake Brewery Playing Field’s 1.89 hectares contravened its protected status, would lead to 50% of the total new traffic generated by the Brewery site in the peak hour gridlock on the Lower Richmond Road and cost £5.3m to widen the Chalker’s Corner junction. He said that the GLA in their first report to the Council on the proposed development had called for a “robust and evidenced case” for the need for a secondary school to be demonstrated.
Council Leader Gareth Roberts and Cllr Frost, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools argued that expanding existing secondary schools was not possible financially; Christ’s School would encroach on protected open space and Richmond Park Academy did not want to expand. The last point was denied by a School Governor from Richmond Park Academy.
Cllr Penny Frost, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools, said the Council believed that The Livingstone Academy would be an excellent provider of a new school.
After discussion, the Chair called on the Council to engage more fully with the community by
- Responding to the GLA’s requirement that there should be a “robust and evidenced case” to justify a secondary school
- Demonstrate that alternatives such as expansion of existing schools are adequately and fairly considered
- Show how the local demand for primary school places will be delivered
- Undertake that they will not resolve the school planning application until these actions have been taken.
These 4 points were put to the meeting and endorsed by a show of hands of the audience. We now very much hope that the Council will undertake a proper consultation with the local community including parents and local schools.
To read more about our concerns about putting a new secondary school on the Mortlake site, please click here