Massive, great long sagas about school sites. We can only assume these do actually form part of official national policy when it comes to the provision of school places. We just can’t get enough of them can we? Time for an update on sites for much needed local school places? Yep. Then let us begin. And put your smartphone away and pay attention at the back!
East-side: Remember the new Richmond Bridge primary school that was going to be in East Twickenham but then wasn’t and then announced that it was going to be called something else and based at London House on the A316 near East Sheen but then opened in 2016 in temporary accommodation at Richmond Adult College in Parkshot in Richmond? You do? That’s great because you’ve saved us the job of trying to explain it all. Deer Park School it’s called. Anyway, that school has just announced it’s found a permanent home which isn’t London House after all but is in fact Ryde House in East Twickenham. You’d be forgiven for wondering if that wasn’t one of the early suggestions for the school site… because you’d be right. But Lidl (off of cheap food) bought it and that seemed to scupper that. But wait! Hot news arrives from East Twickenham that Ryde House is now set to become a ‘mixed retail and school development’. It’s an interesting idea. It could work. But will it work? We don’t know (obviously) but you might. Shopping and schooling on the same site could make for a very busy little corner of the borough.
According to El Brute’s press release Lidl are expected to submit a planning application later this year and so East Twickenham will get its primary school after all. And if you’re a parent with an interest in sending your DS or DD to the school’s new location then there’s a chance to meet with DPS at its current Parkshot HQ on 1st March to hear more about the planned move and about how you can amend school place choices ahead of April’s National Offer Day. At this stage it’s unclear whether Lidl plan to hold an open evening detailing their low cost, in-store offers ahead of their shop opening.
West-side: Twickenham Primary Academy is another of the new free schools in the borough…No Lidl deal here but you may recall the shenanigans about the school opening at Heathgate House on Colne Road near Twickenham Green. Back in late 2014 there was a lot of consternation about the traffic impact of a new school setting up in the narrow roads in that part of ‘Nam. That debate hasn’t gone away. The school, which is run by GEMS Learning Trust, currently has a planning application lodged with El Brute to formally secure a change of use for the building from office space to ‘state funded primary’. Given that the school is already open and merrily teaching children it sounds as if the use of the building has already been changed, but what do we know? There’s plenty of support for the change of use on Council planning pages. And there’s opposition too. To summarise: going by the addresses of the respondents, it looks as if parents and prospective parents from across the wider area support the plan whilst locals in the affected roads are less happy. One concerned resident told twickerati, “People recognise the need for primary school places, however, the location is highly unsuitable in terms of access and safety. This area’s already gridlocked in the morning, extra cars and foot traffic generated by 420 pupils plus parents will make it unbearable. Many local residents are saying this is a done deal and fear there’s little we can do to prevent it. It feels like our concerns are being swept under the carpet”.
Meanwhile, a parent of a child at the school said, “Because of oversubscription at local schools TPA was a godsend. It is ideally situated as it caters for children as far east as Richmond Bridge and as far west as Feltham. The school is not only extremely conscious of local residents’ needs and concerns but also offers community programmes and facilities, organises local litter picking and recycling, and – let it be known – is extremely firm about parents not parking near the school, making no bones about telling anyone off for being selfish!”
It’s a tough one given the well-documented need for additional school places across the borough and once again we’re all left to speculate, “If not there, then where?”. Hey, hang of a second… London House in North Sheen perhaps? We hear there’s a school site that’s just become free over that way.
North-side: And lastly, anyone who isn’t yet suffering from consultation fatigue linked to the development of the Richmond upon Thames College site in Egerton Road TW1 has an opportunity to have yet another say on some aspect of the plan. Yes, really. This time it is the ‘external designs’ for the new ‘REEC’ site which require your input. As you must know by now, the site will feature a re-vamped sixth form college, a new secondary school and the Clarendon SEN School. The consultation will be launched online on 29th February and there will be a drop-in session on 7th March from 5.00-7.00pm at RuTC.
So that’s all clear then.
Or is it?