Might Chris Philp, the Tory MP for Croydon South, get his wish for a grammar school in his constituency?
With the Tory government determined to push through schools selection at 11-plus, Croydon could soon get its first grammar school in more than 40 years, and the local council – more by accident than design, it is fair to say – may have earmarked an ideal location.
The Heath Clark Playing Fields, which these days are rarely used for anything other than casual grazing for someone’s small herd of horses, have been included in the borough’s Local Plan for development.
The playing fields are next to Duppas Hill Park. It is understood that a covenant included in their ownership means that the local authority may only use the land for educational purposes – so building a secondary school to cope with the “bulge” in pupil numbers currently working its way through Croydon’s primaries would fit the bill.
Close to Fiveways Junction, what is now overgrown grazing land is not too far away from what grammar school boy Philp regards as the nirvana of selective education – LibDem-run Sutton, with the borough boundary just the other side of the Purley Way.
The Heath Clark site might be seen as suitable for a “satellite” school – the device used in Kent to get around current anti-selection legislation. A short bus ride away is Wallington County Grammar School for boys, which is so highly rated in Croydon Tory circles that the Housing Minister, local MP Gavin Barwell, chose to send his eldest son there. And Wallington’s ambitious headmaster Jonathan Wilden already has approval for a 1,000-pupil mixed comprehensive in Croydon.
Certainly, Labour councillors in Waddon have reservations about development issues raised by building any school on Heath Clark, as they have been contacting residents to seek their views on the Local Plan’s proposals for the green space between Stafford Road and Duppas Hill Park.
The Local Plan does not specify what kind of school might be built on the site, except that it would be for secondary school aged children. Any build may see the council needing to buy up neighbouring homes and properties, the councillors say.
“The Waddon local councillors are concerned that it would not be possible to access this site from Stafford Road without the compulsory purchase of properties,” Andrew Pelling wrote to the ward’s residents this week.
“A new school here would also increase parking and traffic pressures and put more strain on already-crowded local public transport as well as see the loss of some green space.”
The ward councillors have asked residents to email their comments on proposals in the Local Plan directly at LDF@croydon.gov.uk. The deadline for comments is October 17.
- Inside Croydon Events: with free listings for community events, these are updated daily for a comprehensive guide to what’s going on near you
- Still Croydon’s only independent news source, and based in the heart of the borough: 1.97 million page views 2013-2015
- Inside Croydon: Named among best regional media campaigns, 2014
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event to publicise, please email us with full details at firstname.lastname@example.org