Twickenham School Site Scrap?

School goes here

School goes in the middle of here?

[STOP PRESS: The change of use application has now been withdrawn. See update at the end. ]

There’s nothing quite like planning committees and schools to get people all hot under the collar in Twickenham. That whole ‘neck / collar interface’ is getting decidedly warm near Twickenham Green as one of the recently approved free schools seeks to turn an office block into its new primary school. What office block is that, we hear you cry. Well it’s Heathgate House which sits between Heath Road and Colne Road by Twickenham Green. It’s a building that has had intermittent use over recent years and now GEMS Learning Trust are proposing to convert it into their new Twickenham Primary Academy.

An application for change of use from business to educational is currently residing on the El Brute website. There’s a lot of pressure on school places across the borough and several local primaries have already taken on ‘bulge classes’ to accommodate demand. Could the established schools with more space take on more pupils? Perhaps, but the free schools system allows for all sorts of new initiatives although finding suitable locations is proving to be a challenge for many of them.

The Heathgate House site is fairly small and has limited outside play space. Little Johnny will be lapping that playground to burn off his excess energy. The GEMS plan would see two forms in each year group and a nursery. This equates to 450 children on the site by the time the school reaches full capacity in September 2022. It would put the space under a lot of pressure. A quick butchers on Google Earth will show you that the Heathgate House footprint looks to be about one third of the size of Archdeacon Cambridge’s school just across the Green. Perhaps we might describe the school as ‘compact’.

And what about traffic? The surrounding roads are narrow, a two-way flow isn’t always possible, parking can be tough and the junction of Colne Road and Heath Road by Chapman’s store is an awkward one. The application letter states that, “The proposed school is expected to generate less demand for parking throughout the school peak periods than the extant use, and as such would represent a reduction in overall demand”. Hmmm. Maybe. Meanwhile, the application also explains how the current car park on the plot would be converted into the school playground. No doubt everyone will be a good citizen and walk to school or take public transport meaning traffic and parking is unlikely to be a problem. Possibly. Or possibly not. Here at twickerati, we don’t know much about schools although we did go to one once. To be honest, it was a bit of a boring day. Perhaps if we’d paid more attention at school we’d be able to see the virtues of this plot as a location for a school for 450 pupils. But, as they say, if not here then where? And therein lies a large part of the problem in finding enough space to meet growing demand for school places, new and innovative ideas are required. Needless to say you can express your view on the proposal on El Brute’s planning page.

And if that’s not enough for you, on the other side of town, the proposed Lidl supermarket on Richmond Road in East Twickenham is creating angst among those who believe another of the newly approved schools may have missed out on a suitable location. Word is that the Richmond Bridge Primary School was interested in that one. It’s another fairly ‘compact’ site in an area of limited parking and plenty of traffic. It doesn’t sound ideal but, as we said just a few lines ago, and at the risk of extreme repetition, we need more school places and so if not there then where?

Go. Ponder that. Then share.

UPDATE: 12 December 2014
The change of use application has now been withdrawn. As Chris Squire writes in his comment below:
“An email confirming that the HH application has been withdrawn is here.

Instead they plan to meet the planners in January and to prepare a ‘full application’. The planners’ ‘Reason for taking no further action on application’ is here.”

To save you clicking on that link, the reasons given on that “No Further Action” statement are pretty much…
– Pre-application advice was sought from Officers but not followed in terms of either technical or procedural issues
– Some of the planned alterations would need to be dealt with on a full planning application rather than a change of use application
– Concerns around parking and noise
– Objections from local residents
– Deficit of soil contamination information

Of course this withdrawal doesn’t mean that the issue is closed by any means. Will a full planning application be submitted as suggested? Well, we’ll find out in 2015 what the next twist in this saga will be.

* Richmond Council Planning Page (case number: 14/4611/P3KPA)
* GEMS Learning Trust – Twickenham
* Lidl’s East Twickenham proposal
* Richmond Bridge Primary


Filed under Council, Local Issues & News, Schools

64 responses to “Twickenham School Site Scrap?

  1. Hester Huttenbach

    Please be aware that work starts on Heathgate House primary school in two weeks time regardless of objections which have obviously been overruled by someone. The first intake of two forms begins this September 2015!! It will be called Twickenham Free primary or similar and they are also advertising for staff.

  2. An email confirming that the HH application has been withdrawn is at:

    Instead they plan to meet the planners in January and to prepare a ‘full application’.

    The planners’ ‘Reason for taking no further action on application’ is at:

    • Sally

      Reading the link, it sounds pretty likely that there will be another application in Jan-they’ve come this far.
      I drove past the suggested site yesterday at noon. It really is incredibly narrow around there-not just nowhere to park, but frequent reversing as cars barrel toward you and there is nowhere to pull in to let them pass.I am familiar with the parking situation with most of the local schools, its never easy, but this site just seems extraordinarily difficult.Of course you walk when at all possible, but sometimes it isn’t.
      Even adults have to be very nippy at Chapman;’s corner to avoid being flattened.Lots of little groups of parents/kids/buggies?

  3. westwickdad

    What hope do we have when even the Conservative parliamentary candidate is clueless on local school issues. Her latest leaflet has a photo of her “standing outside Orleans Park School, which has recently increased the number of primary svhool places”.

    Er no, unless I missed the announcement where they donated their new sixth form block to one of the two primary free schools that need a building for 2015.

  4. Mike

    Anyone know if the council is planning on using Public Spaces Protection Orders on areas around any existing or new schools in the borough? A combination of that plus a designated – and sensibly located – drop off area might address some of the traffic concerns?

  5. westwickdad

    I see Newland House is expanding – they must be expecting a surge in demand from people levered out of the state sector by poor provision.

  6. ‘A decision has been issued by the authority.A copy of the decision notice will appear in the case file soon, and within a maximum of two weeks.’

    I gather that the application has been withdrawn.

    Publishing the comments ‘Newest first’ makes this thread very difficult to follow. The option to view them ‘Oldest first’ would be helpful to comprehensibility. Failing that, making every comment appear as a new comment instead of a reply would be helpful.

    • Interesting.

      Re comments: Surely most sites now tend towards ‘newest first’. As for embedded replies, replies to comments are indented to make them identifiable but that can be restricted as to the number of levels. Might try taking that down a notch.

    • illiad1

      A lot of sites have a selector for ‘newest, oldest, thread view ‘ – I use ‘newest’ to see if there are any new comments, then switch to thread to check replies..

    • Alexis

      I’m with Twickerati and don’t agree with Mr Squire about the re-ordering of posts, it’s quite easy to navigate the threads, ignore those you are not interested in and focus on the most recent posts which may or not be interesting.
      However, here’s a suggestion. Why not limit posters to 3 within any 24 hour period as was the rule on ONCOM a much missed forum which Mr Edwards referred to on another thread.
      That would stop people like me and WITP banging on ad nauseam about our hobbyhorses. In his or her case, Faith schools, St RR and “pew sitters”. In my case, anything to do with LibDem misrule or the increasingly unlikely prospect of the UKIP candidate, Barry Edwards, getting elected. Well said Sally – there’s a first!
      Fortunately the threat of this ill-advised school site appears to be no more, for now at least, although it doesn’t alter the woeful shortage of primary school places. I only hope that WITP who seems pretty absorbed with the subject will focus his or her energy on those who can make a difference rather than lecturing and hectoring those of us who can’t – at tedious and repetitive length.

    • westwickdad

      I’m with Chris Squire on this. Prefer to read from top to bottom, and the conversation view just confuses.

      Keep on posting WITP. It’s a hot topic out on the streets of Twickenham for anyone with kids of a certain age.

    • Sally

      WITP is writing with all the rest of the posters about matters which are of great importance to so many people in Twickenham; her comments are reasoned,interesting often great fun and never rude or spiteful even if in disagreement.Anybody who finds the topic dull could go and think of other things such as giving thanks that they are not affected by this matter. Go for it WITP.

    • illiad1

      Or how about a ‘proper’ forum using or ???
      It would then be far easier to manage, and edit out the mistrakes!!! 😛 🙂

    • twickerati

      Hmm. This is a blog site which allows comments on posts, not a discussion forum. A proper bulletin board is a nice idea but adds yet another dimension in terms of management and moderation. Now, if people wanted to pay…..

    • Ah, I just noticed the lack of ads… :/
      there are many forums out there totally free, subsidised by ads… 🙂

    • I actually pay real money to WordPress to not have ads on this site. All part of the (loss making) service.

    • in fact, phbb is owned by … 🙂 🙂

      so stop moaning, do it now…. 😀 :E 😀

    • illiad1

      Please do notice the total lack of ads here…. 😛

    • Sally

      Thank you very much for making this an ad free site

    • Anonymous

      Hi Twickerati this is a fantastic free site and it’s great just the way it is.

      ….Apart from the addicted contributors who use this wonderful personal blog as their free soapbox to comment on EVERYTHING repeatedly in often party political rants, clogging up the site with the same names ad-infinitumn (don’t they have homes to go to?)

      Perhaps there’s scope for someone to set up a Twickenham forum? Where addicted blog-hoggers and party politicos can post to their hearts content, and leave Twickerati’s comments to the rest of Twickenham folk who don’t quite feel the need to come on here every half an hour to make yet another lengthy ranty post back at the same ‘angry of Twickenham’ blog-hogs, trolling-out the same ol’ beef.

      Sorry to rant at some length! Be nice to keep Twickerati blog-hog free; not necessarily payment free.

    • frostymorn

      The blog/comment format is fine – it’s good to kick off local debate with Twickerati’s fresh and light-hearted blog postings – but I agree with others that the conversation view is awkward to follow if you’re not subscribed to email alerts. That’s probably why the number of contributors decreases as the length of the conversation increases. Quality-wise the points made are usually pretty good (or else so obviously bad that they’re illuminating).

      To Anonymous (who posted either above or below, depending on where this gets put, at December 20, 7:15 pm) I’d say if you’re not interested, don’t read. Easy not to. But I suspect he just doesn’t like some of the points being made – rather like Lord True and his vain hope that the “well ventilated voices” of his constituents might quietly fade into the background once he’s managed to get his own way.

    • Walkinthepark

      Thanks West Wick Dad. Perhaps people who are not interested in why parents are so upset and why we really are in a position where schools are needing to be crammed into this sort of accommodation and are testing the limits of planning policy should skip the thread (and I haven’t expressed my irrelevant opinion of Faith Schools, St RR or pew sitters, just the consequences of exclusive admissions and the giving away of a valuable site at a time when we face a local shortage of school places). Thousands of parents came together to focus energy on trying to influence those who make a difference, and highlight what was coming. I am just communicating what we know as a result.

      It is entirely unlikely that this “madness” is no more. Ask the residents in Vernon Road Mortlake where the new Free School is crammed into a church with no outside space and surrounded by congested roads, there were very similar issues. At risk of being tedious, the EFA do delay any involvement with planning and consultation with residents to the last minute to avoid drawing attention to the negotiation they are having with the owners / vendors and the possible escalation of price if others become involved, those negotiations will be all but finalised, on the basis the Planning policy infrastructure for making these office blocks and churches into schools is well tested. As anyone who has ever had to fight an unsuitable Planning Applications will know it is common practise to submit an application to test the water and help manage the expectations of local residents. They will have been advised on what grounds it would not be approved and will probably submit another with adjustments. Of course to residents who think the whole idea is madness such concessions will be irrelevant but that is how it works, and so I would advise those who want to influence this to watch the Planning site carefully and be ready to trot out all the arguments again (and probably again).

    • Alexis

      Witp says
      “(and I haven’t expressed my irrelevant opinion of Faith Schools, St RR or pew sitters, just the consequences of exclusive admissions and the giving away of a valuable site at a time when we face a local shortage of school places).”
      Sorry Witp, you did indeed pepper your several post of December 10th with reference to Faith Schools, St RR and pew sitters – if your opinion was so so irrelevant why do so, so many times? Perhaps you would like to refresh your mind? Whether that matters very much is probably moot, however I repeat my point – why bombard us with all this well-researched information? – what can we do? Why not concentrate your attention on those who can make a difference or are you already one of them?
      Lots of questions but you repeatedly asked Onthebuses what he or she would do – they tried – perhaps you could come up with a quick fix yourself rather than just being jolly clever?

    • Walkinthepark

      References to Faith Schools, St RR and those who sit in pews to get a school place because very sadly the pressure put on parents by the shortage of places in community schools makes them feel they have no other way of securing a place, were made in the context of the directly relevant consequences of exclusive admissions policies. Not a problem if all parents have the chance of a local community school place, but they don’t. The direct result is that there is a shortage of local school places, whilst others travel some distance to Faith Schools, with all the implications in terms of relations with the local community, transport etc. It is important to separate disliking that effect from people’s attitudes to Faith Schools, many of us are very offended by the implication that if you dislike that effect you must be anti faith school. Plenty of those who object to exclusive admissions send their children to Faith Schools, are on governing bodies even, including I can assure you St RR. As I highlighted the policy of the CofE Diocese is that their schools should be inclusive.

      And I was quite clear in my debate with Onthebuses that there is nothing ideal about this, but given that the only alternative is children without school places then local residents probably do have to get used to finding schools crammed into their own back yard, as they already have in Mortlake. I just hope that the planning process does it’s job of balancing the quality of life of residents with that need.

    • Onthebuses

      I am happy to read WITP’s research and arguments but I don’t see that this location for the school is the only alternative, or that this sponsor is the only provider who could make it happen. As I pointed out, the opening in 2015 is tentative anyway – it is not on the LA application form. After the election we could see more big changes in policy like a freeze on new free schools, at the same time as a change of rules to allow councils to plan their own schools. This proposal may get through, but it will have to be altered because the travel plan is woefully unrealistic.

  7. vanw1ck

    I live very close to this proposed site. The line about “less demand for parking than current use” is completely wrong. The office block isn’t being used at the moment (other than for some recent filming for a few weeks) so there are no cars being parked for people to go to it. A school is going to create a LOT more parking problems.
    The sensible solution would be to build a new Primary School on the Greggs site (indeed there were vague planning applications around suggesting this a few months back) – lots of room for a big school and playing fields, could even be room for some residential development too. Yes there would be some traffic issues but no worse than the Greggs lorries and at least there would be an obvious benefit to local residents. The Heathgate House site would be better as residential with its own parking.
    We do need new schools around here though. It is shocking how many people with no interest in Church turn up to various ones and sign in every week just to try and get a place at one of the faith schools. That seems all wrong for the churches and the schools in question, not to mention the existing members of the congregations with kids of school age.
    So, maybe Heathgate House is the ‘least worst’ option?

    • Su

      The line about ‘less demand for parking than current use’ may not be wrong in technical planning terms. Applicants are allowed to argue that the starting point for looking at traffic and parking is the level that would be generated by the current *permitted* use, which is not necessarily the same as the current actual use. The argument in planning terms is that if there is a permitted use, someone could just occupy the premises and start generating traffic and parking without needing any new permission; that’s already been considered when the previous planning permission was granted.

      But if premises have been empty for a while, you can bring in the argument that there is currently little/no traffic etc and that any new development would generate fresh demand. Some LAs have policies on how long premises have to be empty before you can argue that they don’t create traffic at all; Richmond doesn’t. So you have to argue case by case and the officers can be extremely unhelpful.

      When we were arguing about the previous Travelodge+Lidl proposal for Ryde House in East Twickenham, the office block and shops by then had been empty for SIX years. They still let the developers claim that the starting point was current permitted use and the traffic that would generate. So the planning appl ended up saying that the new development would reduce traffic!! No amount of argument on our part that there was no traffic currently in or out of the site (except a small ‘shoppers carpark’ on Saturdays) had any effect. So be warned!

  8. Ananke

    Can we not have Twickerati being used as a platform for UKIP please, or any other political party come to that?
    Mr Edwards does himself no favours at all by this kind of politicking.

    • illiad1

      you have freedom of speech, USE IT!!
      how about you getting *your* favourite councillor to get on here, and then we ALL can get ‘right to reply’ … 🙂 🙂

    • illiad1

      But fist, a round of applause for a *proper* planning application!!! 🙂 🙂

  9. Why do we need more school places? Because the population is increasing. What is causing the population increase? The Office of National Statistics (ONS) says:

    “Over the earlier part of this period population change was driven mainly by variation in the number of births. Population grew throughout the 1960s up until the early 1970s mainly as a result of the 1960s baby boom; while over the rest of the 1970s growth was subdued, reflecting falling fertility. The very large birth cohort of 1960s baby boomers beginning to have children saw births, and hence the population, grow again in the 1980s, but births declined again through the 1990s. A time series of UK births and deaths data on a calendar year basis is available in the Population and Health Reference Tables published by ONS. Since 2001 there have been high levels of net inward migration, adding to the population at younger working ages. In part this was driven by the expansion of the European Union in 2004 and 2007”.

    This population trend is accelerating; from the late 1950s to 1997 the UK population had been stable around the 57 million mark. The projected doubling time of the population, as of 2013 and at a rate of 0.8% means that, if there is no substantial change in this trend, the UK will double its population in 75 years and have a population of 126 million by 2085. This would mean that all goods and services would also need to double to maintain the existing quality of life; including schools. The UK would have to experience a strong steady period of growth about the same level of 0.8% for 75 years, just to stand still, in real terms. This is a just practical reality.

    What this means to Richmond Borough, which has a similar population growth level is that the 190,000, will inevitably turn into 380,000 in 75 years. The question is do we have to keep building, destroying all our open space, the areas which characterize the Borough, or do we tackle the cause? As is says in the ONS figures above, this can really only be put down to one thing, because the population was declining in the 1990s, it is EU migration. It is a very unavoidable fact, so we have a clear choice; accept all our open space being lost, or do we stop the “open door” movement of people from the EU, which would you like, because it is certain, you can’t have both, because as Mark Twain said “they are not making anymore land”!!

    • George

      Without wanting to see another thread on this great site go down under a blaze of party politicking, I would say that one other reason for the rise in demand for school places locally must surely be the continuing economic dominance of London drawing in new workers from around the UK and the fact that people like moving to this particular area from other parts of the city once they get married & have kids. Twickenham’s a great place to live but that then creates its own pressures and problems.

    • illiad1

      well maybe you should ask ‘twickerati’ if you can help moderate, to stop so many off topic posts…. :E

    • Walkinthepark

      This is a debate about Twickenham Schools. It is about being a borough with more green space than practically any other, a good supply of nice family houses, a nice community to live in for young parents, and good schools. So young families pay through the nose to live in this part of London, pulled not pushed, and then find out that there are not enough school places. That happened to us in the 1990s, and LBRUT under all sorts of politicos have never really addressed the problem except by responding with too little, too late. EU migration is irrelevant. No one is advocating building on our parks, just look at what happened when Lord True even suggested doing so for his “historic” rowboat.

    • Walkinthepark

      And all that was delivered with an exasperated sigh of “Oh no, not again”

    • Sally

      Mr Edwards, stop. This is a thread about a proposed new local school. Nobody is suggesting putting it on a park or other green space. This is rightly a very popular area in which to live and have children and there’s pressure on school spaces. Please stop trying to churn up some sort of migrant blaming.
      Mark Twain said something like that about land. He also had a great deal to say about bigots. And his family were all open door migrants.

    • The doubling period for growth @ 0.8% p.a. = 72/0.8 = 90 years not 75.

      The immediate-term forecast based on demography is that London’s population, now 8.6 mn. – the highest since 1939 – will pass 9.0 mn. in 2019 and 10.0 mn. in 2034 – a 20 % increase.

      Richmond borough’s population will increase from 193,000 now to 212,000 in 2019 and 216,000 in 2036 – a 12 %increase.

      GLA 2013 round of trend-based population projections – Results: February 2014: Tables 1 & 2.

  10. Onthebuses

    If the children most in need of a school places will be travelling from 6th Cross Road (or East Twickenham if they get a supermarket before a school), exactly what is the possibility of any commuter getting through the doors of the H22, 490, R70, etc.? There’d be 40-50 staff in addition to 450 children AND their parents, on routes already accessed by children making their way to three secondaries, not even counting the other primaries. Or just more cars. Which will make the buses crawl even more slowly, and Twickenham an even less desirable place to commute from.

    • Walkinthepark

      What exactly are you advocating for these children, on the buses? They have to go to school and they have just as much right to commute on a bus as an adult, don’t they?

      The addresses that have found themselves without school places are all around the Green and down into Central Twickenham too eg Radnor Gardens. The way school admissions work is that you get into the closest community school you expressed a preference for that has places for you, so the assertion in the Planning document that all pupils will be travelling from within a walkable 500m seems a very safe one. It is only Faith Schools in Twickenham, who allocate places to those who have sat in the pews of distant Parishes, that have parents travelling long distances, mostly by car judging by the choked roads around St James’s and Archdeacon Cambridge. Indeed since the new Primary will be a closer school, than the current option given to many parents around the Green, of Heathfield, by Twickenham Academy on the other side of the A316, it might actually reduce the numbers of children and parents on the buses. I don’t think many parents actually do persevere with wrestling young children, their younger siblings and their buggies on and off buses four times a day which is why the current situation is pretty scandalous.

    • Walkinthepark

      And this school won’t serve East Twickenham’s shortage of places, it will fill up with pupils who live nearer. Another new school, is needed to do that.

    • sunshine

      It’ll only fill up with nearby children if it gets a good reputation. If not then children will be allocated to it from far and wide. It’s lack of space is not going to help its reputation (a one-form-entry school would be better suited to the site), and a bit of googling on GEMS Education doesn’t convince me they have a strong track record of running good schools in this country, so it’s all a bit of a gamble really.

    • Walkinthepark

      I agree that the nature of the school sponsor is an issue for parents, and the criteria by which our LA work with new sponsors. They are not allowed to set up new schools, and anyone can submit a Free School proposal, but they can work with trusted partners that command the trust of parents as with the proposed secondary school at Egerton Road, and they certainly could have done more to have facilitated a good site for the school set up by local parents, Turing House.

      However the fact remains, there are not enough school places to go around in this area. There has to be a school, it has to be run by someone and it has to be sited somewhere in Twickenham …….

    • Onthebuses

      Do you expect 33 teachers plus however many cleaners and dinner ladies also to be living locally? They have no parking space. Or they have to get the bus. It’s an empty building so to say there is no impact compared to existing use is bizarre in the least.

      If there are no places for parents to stop or turn round either, yes of course they will have to go on the bus. But the roads are congested and the buses are already so full that they do not stop, whether for adults or for children trying to get to secondary school.

      The site itself is not an attractive option when compared with existing schools, and until the school or sponsor establishes itself it is likely that some of these places will be allocated by the council and therefore be travelling from further away.

      I know how the admissions system works. Parents commute too.

    • Onthebuses

      ‘the assertion in the Planning document that all pupils will be travelling from within a walkable 500m seems a very safe one’

      I’d say that’s wishful thinking by GEMS. If they’re comparing themselves to Orleans Primary with a cut-off of 476m, perhaps they will have to wait for an Outstanding rating. Until then, you could with other free schools in the borough (Thomson House, 893 m, St Mary’s CE Hampton, 2268m).

    • Walkinthepark

      So, again, what are you proposing to address the problem that is facing Twickenham parents, many of whom will shortly find out they do not have a school place if the GEMs school does not open? Where do these children go, except perhaps for not in your backyard?

    • Onthebuses

      In answer to your post below, I’d advise any parent to accept a bulge class place at an existing school, or travel to the undersubscribed schools until a place became available. If St Richard Reynold’s hasn’t had too many applications for its community places (according your post of 11.32am), I’d apply there – no contest in a choice between that or a GEMS school. And there will be an election before the next academic year, so I’d be optimistic that current government policy restricting LAs from planning places will probably be changed. Even Lord True thinks it is bad that LAs can’t propose new schools themselves (whether or not they run them).

    • Onthebuses

      post above, in fact – the reply button is a bit confusing

    • Walkinthepark

      Onthebuses, you don’t seem to get it. The Council have run out of options in existing schools, they cannot meet the need for school places with bulge classes or expansion, they have exploited that option to the max, and will continue to lay on bulge classes wherever they can but they still do not have enough school places.

      There are no schools with vacancies. Each year when they allocate the places a significant proportion of parents are not allocated any of their preferences and are allocated to the schools that are undersubscribed, not from far and wide, the farthest parent allocated St RR who had not made it a preference lived in Radnor Gardens. Heathfield likewise, unpopular because it is so difficult to access, was allocated only to parents who lived as far away as the Green, and most of those rejected the place, probably in part because it was too far to get to with a young child.

      After that they are left with a group of pupils who they inform they have been unable to offer a place to, and they advise them to go on waiting lists with the reassurance that probably they will have moved sufficiently by September for their child to start school. So far apart from a couple of years ago they have just about managed that but only by deterring desperate parents without a school place into finding other options, moving, going private, etc. This has been happening for decades. It is the result of the careful planning of successive Heads of Education, the current one proudly boasts that he successfully plans to make sure there is not one spare place in a LBRUT Primary School, though the Audit Commission requires LAs to plan 4% spare capacity precisely to make sure they meet their statutory obligation. But that is where we are, and there is going to be a need for ever more school places in future years. That is why the two Free Schools were approved for Twickenham.

      This from the minutes of the meeting of the Admission Forum in July when 76 pupils remained without a place for September “The Head of Admissions, Hatija Bhatia, was in attendance to present a verbal update to the Forum and explained that there were 2602 primary places in the borough, including the 231 extra places that had been created to meet the demand for September 2014. The Admissions Team had received 2483 on time applications from in-borough residents and on national offer day (16 April 2014), there were 78 unplaced children. 40 applicants without an offer had been sent a letter at the end of June to ascertain whether they still wanted a place. A further reminder would be sent to those of the forty that were yet to respond and following that, the Admissions Team would only continue to try and find a place for an applicant if they contacted the Team to let them know they would like one. Following the initial round of allocations there had been 94 late applications and 36 of those applicants remained without an offer at the time of the meeting.”

      Next year there will be more pupils requiring places and the year after that and the year after that……
      Something has to give doesn’t it? So I repeat what do you propose?

    • Onthebuses

      Do you propose upsetting local residents by ignoring their fears about safety, parking and congestion?

      Would you trust a school run by GEMS, given that they have no other UK state schools open yet, their first UK private school was a disaster (google Bury Lawn, Milton Keynes) and they have sold off most of the rest ?

      You’d better ask the council what they propose. This school is not listed on the LA’s application form so they will have to plan contingency.

    • illiad1

      “If there are no places for parents to stop or turn round ”
      DO PLEASE look at the map!!! there is also a site map as part of the planning application too… 🙂
      you will see there are lots of back streets to enable easy pick up and drop off, and I would bet the school would use the existing office car park (dunno if it is in use currently??) at the back for this purpose… 😛

    • Walkinthepark

      I have already pointed out that the LA could have been more proactive in working with local parents / trusted providers to deliver school places that met the needs of local parents but that would not be consistent with the deterrent strategy would it? In fact it would stimulate demand and that is not what they want at all, meeting the needs of local parents is a long way down their priorities as they demonstrated with the Clifden Road site.

      And I have already said this is not ideal, and that hopefully the Planning process will balance the needs of local residents with those of local parents as it is supposed to do. Of course you will be aware that the Planning Committee took St RR to task for getting around that process by submitting small ad hoc applications, and actually planning in a way that maximised the impact on local residents, nothing has changed there, no traffic plan, no liaison with local residents, and pupils traveling in from as far and wide as Hammersmith and Sunbury as the Council worked with the Catholic Church to facilitate ……

      However whatever the scandalous back story, we are where we are and we need new school places and if there were better options I am sure the EFA and Council would have taken them. As I mentioned before this isn’t the only school that will be chasing imperfect sites. We are still waiting to hear what site the Council has deemed least worst for Turing House.

      Local residents are going to need to be realistic about finding schools in their backyard.

      I know this website is for ill informed opinion, hopefully a bit of information won’t come amiss……..

    • Walkinthepark

      And whilst it is an issue whether GEMS as a provider of schools is the best option in terms of meeting the needs of local parents, there are more worrying proposals in the pipeline. Perhaps local parents are unaware that the sponsor hoping to get approval to open a Free school locally in the next phase is an organisation that runs International Schools in Spain, again no track record in the state sector, who want to open a bilingual Spanish School. That will be all very well for parents who want their children to have a bilingual education, but those who find themselves offered a place there when they did not make it a preference, as will undoubtedly happen?

  11. Walkinthepark

    The trouble is that as parents of 4 year olds will tell you there are not enough school places, and no room to expand existing community schools any further than they already have. There are addresses around the green, where you will not be offered a school place when you apply, and will languish on a waiting list until another family give up their space, or be offered a place at Heathfield school up behind Twickenham Academy. Try that journey four times a day with toddlers in tow, if you do not have a car, so some 4 year olds don’t start school with their friends, or parents dig deep in pockets for temporary private education. A couple of years ago some parents of 4 year olds in East Twickenham didn’t get a place until Christmas because the Council were cobbling together a remote Reception classroom a fair walk (for 4 year olds) from St Mary’s.

    Of course we can wring our hands about why we have a Council that has always responded tardily to the clearly rising birth rates, and the areas popularity with the parents of young children, happy to see their lists of children without places shrink as desperate parents move or go private, they have relied on that for decades. We can also wring our hands that they allowed St RR the best school site in return for only 10 community places (which are undersubscribed, they knew the St RR places were neither wanted or needed due to under subscription of the bulge classes at Sacred Heart. Some of the places at St RR go to parents who didn’t make it a preference, and in some cases parents who don’t want a faith school place at all) . However that milk is already spilt.

    We could also wring our hands at the Faith Schools in the area who give places to parents who sit in pews (the admissions criteria do not put windows into men’s souls) and are glad to travel from a distance, and clog up the surrounding roads with their cars. It would certainly help if they were community minded and offered more places to local children. However they are giving more places than ever to parents who are prepared to sit in their pews, no sign of a reverse no matter how much they are shamed by the pressure on places for local children whose parents are not willing to sit in a pew, and the clear impact it has on young children’s lives, and indeed in the case of the CofE schools a diocesan policy that asks them to be fully inclusive of local children.

    This site is clearly in an area that is overly congested already, but if not here, where? Presumably the EFA have looked long and hard……

    A lot of the traffic problems could be resolved by changes to parking arrangements, a resident’s parking zone and making the area no entry for vehicles over a certain size unless they are servicing a site, in which case there should be agreements about the time of day they are allowed to arrive and the route.

    It’s certainly not ideal, possibly impossible, in which case hopefully the Planning process will protect local residents, but this is certainly not the first time this problem is going to arise, there is no prospect of the rise in pupil numbers decreasing.

    • westwickdad

      WITP, have uou seen the webcast of the November council meeting? Richmond are unrepentant on their school place planning strategy and happy to see pupils going private if it saves them cash. See from 00:59:21 at

    • Walkinthepark

      Thanks. I think it is called fiddling whilst Rome burns, the only LA in the country not to provide a school place for 100% of on time applicants by 1 September, and he is trying to spin it as something to be proud of. I have also heard the Cabinet Member for Education say that an aim to provide sufficient places in state schools that met parental demand would damage private schools, obviously considered more of an issue than failing to meet the statutory obligation……

  12. westwickdad

    The obvious site suggestion would be RACC, Clifden Road, if it hadn’t already been used for something less necessary.

    Next choice would be the Greggs Factory site – that would kill 2 birds with one stone.

    • Sally

      When the bulge classes were pushed under the idea they’d solve everything there was an outcry from parents who didn’t believe a word of it.The schools concerned rushed to alter their admission criteria, usually towards increasing Church places and demoting siblings . As a result I have several friends desperately commuting between two primary schools-each with identical hours.The stress is awful and a car is needed to be just a bit, rather than terribly, late.
      RACC was/is a superb site-huge, already built, ample playing field and playground space, lots of on site parking.Unlike a new build for which our rates pay to clear a site and for every nail, every plane of glass etc, the RACC could be moved into with minimal outlay.During the row about the site being handed to the Catholic Church on a velvet cushion, I seem to remember lots of reassurance that another school would be conjured up. Is this it? Why do most of the children in the Borough get the crummy option? Why must they jog on the spot in a converted carpark? They could all be running about the RACC fields right now.
      It really does seem a terrible option.

  13. There are a lot of schools in the area already – the sheer number of kids and parents moving about in the morning is now very concentrated on a small area. While new schools are much needed, there is probably more of a requirement further from the Green towards 6th Cross and beyond. By all accounts much of the Lincoln Avenue area is a catchment area black-hole. However, any site that offers the possibility of expanding school places given the population boom in the area (and lack of suitable real-estate) is welcome.

  14. Where does one start….Lets look at the very narrow already very congested roads. Add to that the Greggs lorries and then the lorries that come down Albion Road as their Sat Navs tell them to do so. Then there is the parking or lack of it for the residents and the station commuters. As an Albion Rd resident I am aware of the lack of parking and took this into consideration before moving. However what I have seen in the last five years is a significant increase in cars as well as flats and loft conversations (skips / lorries) which also adds to the pressure. Put simply there is no real access at the front (Heath Road) and the back must surely be made for out side recreation? with that in mind where are the teachers going to park! I have no issue with it being a school however I cannot see how this is going work in terms of the daily logistics of dumping 400 kids in here between 0800 – 0900! You cant even get down Colne Road when four people have parked (illegally) outside Chapmans! I could go on but I have work to do. It’s an accident waiting to happen. Even if this gets the go ahead the very minimum requirement would be residents parking in and around here between 0630 and 1000 like Teddington has by the station. This is madness with bells on….

    • To add now I have just seen the plans, they have removed even more spaces to allow for the no parking lines. It also looks as if they are using the car park as a drop off zone so drive in, drop and drive out.

      This is utter madness

  15. Sally

    Its very difficult to see how the traffic would be managed, aside from anything else.The building fronts on to a busy road which is already a bit nerve wracking to walk along with small children.(There is a railing which is of unwelcome interest to small people.)
    It back on to some very narrow streets indeed.I am not sure how many peoople currently occupy the building but I imagine its less than 450, and furthermore they are adults who don’t need escorting and can arrive via public transport. We are rich in terrible 70s/80 office buildings. I can’t see why that one was chosen.

    • Rufus McDufus

      I believe the intention would be for the dropping off/picking up points to be on Colne Road behind. I don’t think there have been many people in the building for years – certainly not 450, possibly ever even when it was KP.

      It is a very silly idea.