After protests from locals that too little time had been offered to respond, Croydon Council has extended the consultation period on its controversial proposals (aka “determined plan”) to build a large secondary school at Croydon Arena in South Norwood.
As first reported by Inside Croydon, the rapidly cobbled-together scheme for a sports academy has already drawn the opposition from Conservative councillors because of the likelihood to build on Metropolitan Open Land alongside the Arena in Albert Road and South Norwood Country Park.
There will be a public consultation at CALAT Hall on Sandown Road on March 19, from 7pm to 9pm.
Residents have been openly critical of the council’s handling of the consultation thus far, claiming that Tim Pollard, the cabinet member responsible for education in the Tory-run council, has exaggerated the increase in pupil numbers in the borough, and that the documents and maps presented with the plans have been inaccurate.
Paula Goodman, who lives locally and attended last month’s meeting, says that the map of the site used at the meeting differs significantly from that on the council website. “The website site map shows an area behind Macclesfield Road that appears to be a sports pitch. However, in the map that was being presented at the meeting, that has changed to a block building,” she told Inside Croydon.
With Pollard presenting the sports academy as some sort of Olympic “legacy” project – when it has no connection to the Olympics and offers little if any sporting legacy – any building that uses up playing fields will easily be regarded as an own goal, for want of a better cliché.
Goodman said that, “When I questioned him after the meeting, councillor Pollard was unable to explain why that current map wasn’t available for the public to take away or where I could get hold of a copy.
“Whilst I fully understand that at this stage all plans are fluid, it is crucially important when being asked to provide feedback, that we are able to view the plans in their most current format. I am still waiting for a reply.”
Goodman also points out that, as recently as two years ago, Croydon was reported to have an excess of secondary school places – 1,215 – almost the same size of the school they are proposing to build.
Yet Pollard told last month’s meeting equivalent to 14 secondary schools by the autumn of 2017: an extraordinary shortfall of up to 12,600 school places.
“In relation to the ‘scary’ numbers used at the public meeting and again repeated in the consultation document where it states that an additional 50FE of permanent secondary places will be required by 2019-2020, we should let the council’s own report Secondary Education Estates Strategy dated April 2012 speak for itself,” Goodman said.
“Maths is absolutely not my strong point, but I’m struggling to see how we’ve managed to jump from a need for 22FE by 21019-2020 to 50FE,” she said.
The council already has plans to build another six-form entry secondary school – rumoured to be earmarked another Harris-run academy – on the old Croydon General Hospital site.
“As another member of the public commented at the meeting,” Goodman said, “the council’s efforts and budget should be focused on those secondary schools that require significant improvement now. That is how they can support the needs of local residents.”
- To view the council’s consultation document for the Arena Academy, click here.
- Inside Croydon: For comment and analysis about Croydon, from inside Croydon – 253,473 page views Sep 2012-Feb 2013
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