Sunday, December 23, 2012

Dundonald Primary School expansion update

Last Thursday, Merton Council received the Mayor of London’s initial response to expansion proposals for Dundonald Primary School in Wimbledon.
From reading the initial response, it supports the overall proposals for the expansion, but in order to ensure the proposals fully comply with the London Plan, Merton Council has been asked to make the following changes:
1) Agreed hours of community use of the Multi Use Games Area during school hours
2) Installation of measures to ensure excess rainfall is drained effectively including rain water harvesting
 3) Increase in the number of cycle parking spaces

From the response received, the Mayor understands the need to increase school places, along with what has been proposed. Although I may disagree with Boris Johnson on many things, the response is both measured and constructive, and for that he should be commended.

The proposals should go before the Planning Applications Committee on Thursday 17 January and will take into account the Mayor’s representations. If the application is supported by the committee, the mayor has a right to call the application in within 14 days.

In Merton, we have experienced a 39% increase in the number of children entering primary school in the last five years. As a result, we've provided an additional 21 forms of entry with more in the pipeline. This has inevitably placed huge demands in terms of our capital budget as we fulfil our statutory duty to provide school places. The Labour administration believes that expanded schools should be of the highest quality in terms of buildings provided and it is why we have a very large programme for permanent school expansion.
Across London, many boroughs find themselves in a similar predicament, though approaches have varied with some going for very short-term solutions rather than looking at the longer-term as we have in Merton.

Currently Dundonald Primary is one of the most oversubscribed schools in the borough, and is also rated outstanding by OfSTED. The proposals for the school would significantly enhance the facilities both at the school and park, along with providing much needed spaces for local children. What is being proposed will also not go beyond the footprint of the current buildings.

The case is also before the Upper Tribunal as it will involve a covenant variance, this will be determined sometime next year, though it also has to be remembered that the school was built on Dundonald Park after the original covenants were implemented.

Sport England will also issue their views on the application prior to the Planning Committee.

While there has been a great deal of opposition to the application locally, there has also been support from parents who live locally and want to see the school expanded. Many parents are unable to obtain a place at the school if they live beyond 200 metres such is the demand for places. The Labour administration in Merton is strongly supportive of providing places to children within walking distance of a school, but also at schools that are judged outstanding or good by Ofsted. Dundonald expansion meets both these points. As you would expect, I am strongly supportive of the application and below are links about what we are proposing in terms of the expansion of Dundonald School.

The case for Dundonald School expansion can be accessed here: All the papers relating to the application are available here under Dundonald School: