Coulsdon residents call for more school places and new library

A Coulsdon residents’ group has called on the council to ensure that a new primary school is provided to cope with the anticipated increase in roll numbers as a result of developing nearly 700 family homes on the site of the old Cane Hill Hospital.

cropped-coulsdon.jpgAs Inside Croydon reported last week, Barratt Homes has been given the rights to develop the £250million public site. But except a (relatively modest) £9 million payment from Barratt towards community facilities, and likely to be spent across Croydon, the builders are trying to avoid having any school on the site, ludicrously claiming that there will be only 220 children living on the new housing estate.

Parents in Coulsdon already struggle to place their children in the heavily over-subscribed local primaries, and they fear that nearly 700 new homes being build in the area will make that situation far worse.

“There is already a problem with school places at Coulsdon schools being allocated to children from further afield including those from outside the borough,” a formal submission from the East Croydon Residents’ Association said, “while Coulsdon children have been allocated places in South Croydon and Kenley, passing the local schools on their way to school.”

East Coulsdon Residents’ Association – ECRA – has offered an alternative scheme to Croydon Council under its Coulsdon “Masterplan” consultation, suggesting re-opening the old Smitham school site on Malcolm Road as a low-cost, quick-turnaround primary school solution.

In its  submission to Croydon Council last month, ECRA, which represents around 2,000 households on the eastern side of the Brighton Road, from Marlpit Lane to the borough’s  southern boundary, called for a school, plus a library and community hub in the town centre, incorporating adult education provision.

“Education is important and as there is already an urgent need to provide more education places in Coulsdon and across the borough as a whole,” Charles King, the chairman of ECRA, wrote.

“We would support returning the old Smitham school site which still has its classroom and playgrounds intact back to a primary school while relocating the CALAT centre with a new library somewhere in the town centre.”

The residents’ report continues: “Adequate provision must be made to accommodate the children of new residents in the local schools, but this must not be at the expense of children of existing residents.

“The borough as a whole has a shortage of school places and the Cane Hill development will increase this demand, increasing the shortage of places.

What's left of the Cane Hill Hospital: Barratt plan to build nearly 700 homes on the site, but claim there's no need for a school

What’s left of the Cane Hill Hospital, surrounded by some beautiful countryside: Barratt plan to build nearly 700 homes on the site, but claim there’s no need for a school

“We are pleased that the borough has obtained funding for additional classrooms and schools within the borough, however, places to build new schools are difficult to find within the Borough of Croydon. A solution in the Coulsdon area would be to relocate the existing CALAT Centre and combine it with a new library on one of the other sites in Coulsdon that would be suitable, but not suitable for a school.

“This would allow the old Smitham Junior School to reopen. As this building still has its classrooms, assembly hall and playgrounds intact… it could be converted and refurbished back to a school very quickly. This would be far cheaper than finding a new site to build a new school.”

ECRA’s 17-page submission also calls on the Cane Hill developers to provide new paths and cycle tracks around their site, to make best use of the Green Belt and link with Farthing Downs and Happy Valley “to provide new and improved opportunities for public recreation such as walking, cycling and horse riding, while protecting the existing fauna and flora and wildlife”.

They recommend that the London Loop – the public path that encircles the capital – between Coulsdon South and Banstead Stations “should be diverted across the site and pass by the Surrey Iron Railway Embankment to enable the public to appreciate this ancient monument”.

They also suggest a small fishing lake and skate park near Cane Hill to provide adequate outdoor activities for the area’s young people.

Cane Hill Farm, ECRA says, “plays an important part in Coulsdon’s local economy and should not be lost.

“The existing farm should be maintained on the site. We would strongly support moving the farm to an alternative site at the southern end of site to form a green barrier between the new houses and the area to the top of Portnals Road.”

Coulsdon town centre, ECRA says, “lacks a number of things that make the town viable for the future in 21st century”, including a lack of housing mix. ECRA wants to see more smaller sized homes “for young professional people, young families and also for many older people to maintain. A much better mix of smaller apartments and houses with two bedrooms and with smaller gardens along with family three- and four-bedroom houses are needed,” they state.

“We would like to see a new public library combined with the CALAT Adult Learning Centre and an innovation centre that also has meeting rooms and this could also incorporate the Coulsdon Community Centre on a Town Centre site… The Town Centre also needs to provide more employment to bring people into the town during the day.”

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