Sutton determined to build special school on playing fields

Our Sutton reporter, CARL SHILTON, on the latest plans to concrete over a precious open space, this time being pushed through in Beddington by Paul Scott’s firm of architects

Morrison’s, the supermarket alongside the busy Fiveways junction, could soon offer car-parking facilities in the rush-hour for drop-offs and pick-ups for two local schools if plans from Sutton Council are pushed through.

Morrison’s Fiveways: Sutton is considering using this supermarket for a special school’s parking

The supermarket car park alongside the heavily polluted Purley Way is already used by parents with children at Harris Purley Way Primary.

Now it is being considered to provide a similar facility for pupils at a special school which LibDem-controlled Sutton wants to build on playing fields at Sheen Way.

The Orchard Hill academy trust currently runs a special school for children with additional needs in the elegant surroundings of Carew Manor, surrounded by playing fields and Beddington Park.

If Sutton Council’s scheme goes ahead, the new school will be plonked in the middle of the 800-home High View Estate, destroying that area’s only green space and leaving residents  with “not enough outdoor space for a game of table football”, according to a councillor opposing the project.

Orchard Hill has already been advertising jobs in which it says that the new-build free school on Sheen Way Playing Fields is a done-deal and is going ahead – even though Sutton Council only put the plans out to public consultation last month.

The TP Bennett architects drawings of the free school that they are determined to build on playing fields in the middle of a 800-home housing estate

Nick Mattey, the independent councillor for Beddington North ward who is opposing the project on the grounds that it removes an important public amenity from the area’s residents, states that the narrow residential streets around Sheen Way are unsuitable for the traffic which the 240-pupil school would generate twice every weekday during term time.

There are also serious concerns among residents of the impact of construction traffic to the site if the build goes ahead.

Sutton Council’s plans would release Carew Manor – which includes a Grade I-listed Manor House banqueting hall – for other, as yet unspecified uses, with the renamed Futures Academy free school, now able to take pupils aged from five to 19, and moving to the new site supposedly for the start of the 2020-2021 academic year.

At a council meeting last year, attended by more than 50 residents from the High View Estate, the LibDem council maintained that the development is not theirs, but is being pushed through by the Department for Education. The DfE denies this.


The architects engaged to deliver the school on Sheen Way are London Bridge-based TP Bennett. Sutton Council sources relate that TP Bennett has been very active in pushing their plans through the planning department with unseemly haste.

One of TP Bennett’s directors is Paul Scott, Croydon Labour’s cabinet member for overdevelopment, back garden blocks of flats and zero council homes.

In Croydon, when the council and DfE decided that they wanted to build a selective academy for an educational trust based at a Wallington grammar, Scott ignored residents’ objections and helped to push through a change of planning status for the Coombe Way Playing Fields, removing their protected status as Metropolitan Open Land. Residents have had to live with the consequences of the ill-considered scheme ever since, while the playing fields have been lost forever.

TP Bennett’s recently revamped website has as a headline boast: “We Think. We design. We plan. We push. We try. We try again. We listen. We laugh. We question. We wonder. We discover. We rip it up. We start again. We embrace. We build. We succeed. We are TP Bennett.”

Today, Mattey told Inside Sutton: “Plans to move the children to Sheen Way Playing Fields are ill-thought out. They will cause disruption and distress to both pupils and residents on the High View Estate alike. Bussing in pupils to a tiny two-hectare site located in the middle of a densely populated housing estate makes no sense.

“Providing 100 parking spaces for teachers and staff at the proposed location could mean a 20 per cent increase in traffic and paralyse the narrow and overcrowded road system just off the already congested Purley Way and A232.

Jillian Green: ‘The children deserve better’

“The current school at Carew Manor has plenty of cycle paths and walking routes and is just 100 metres from the nearest bus stop. Sheen Way Playing Fields are 600 metres from the nearest bus stops. Parents and pupils will not be using public transport to get to any new school built there.”

Jillian Green is another independent councillor in Beddington North. She also lives on the High View Estate. She said, “Let me make this very clear, I absolutely support the need for a new school, but I think the children deserve better than being bussed into an estate with narrow streets and receiving their education next to a railway line, industrial units and residential housing.

“The children, staff and parents deserve a much better open site with easy access via roads and public transport.”

There are to be two public consultation sessions staged next week, held at the Cricket Centre, in Plough Lane, Wallington, on June 13 (6pm-8pm) and June 14 (9.30am-11am).

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5 Responses to Sutton determined to build special school on playing fields

  1. As Waddon councillors we found it very helpful that the High View Residents Association made contact with us across the Borough boundary to tell us of this possible development.

    Waddon residents can see this nice open space on the right when they travel towards Wallington on the train from Waddon station. The loss of the green space has an amenity value whose loss would adversely impact the residents in the surrounding roads that are in Sutton’s Beddington North ward.

    I think that the respected Liberal Democrat councillor John Leach, who stood down from Beddington North ward in 2014, had long resisted development on this site.

    We were made aware of the suggestion that an entry to the site could be made from the Morrisons’ car park. We drew this concern to the attention of Croydon planners who were not aware of any plans to build a road to Morrisons.

    Such a road is of interest to Waddon residents, to Croydon council and to TfL as regards to any impact upon the £81million Fiveways junction improvements.

    Councillor Canning attended the exhibition held in late April at the Cricket Centre in Plough Lane, Beddington on this project and was given a firm reassurance that no road to Morrisons is intended.

    We will, as Waddon councillors, continue to watch out for any change in such a no new road approach.

  2. They could always take over St. Andrews in Waddon when the Church of England are done with it

  3. I think the Church of England have every desire to keep the St Andrew’s site for future Anglican educational use.

    The Secretary of State can declare the St Andrew’s land surplus to educational use as does The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away so one must render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s, which is not the St Andrew’s site.

    But in the secular world I hope that the Waddon councillors’ submission that the numbers show that a booming Croydon will need this land for future secondary school place demand and that provision for Anglican education as part of a choice for parents and pupils should be retained will help in keeping the St Andrew’s site for schooling.

  4. Michael Hennessy says:

    Am I missing something here? TP Bennett are the architects? Yet another example of conflict of interest .

    • Probably not, Michael, since the planning authority for the school is Sutton, and not Croydon, where Paul Scott rules the roost.

      There might be planning issues for the school in Croydon, however, if it is decided to make changes to the road network on this side of the borough boundary.

      TP Bennett’s attitude on display over the planning process in Sutton, though, will be entirely familiar to those who have had dealings in Croydon with Scott, who is another who enjoys concreting over open green spaces.

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