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.
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.
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.
“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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