Mark's campaign notepad and other stuff

Notes from the writer/LibDem parliamentary candidate for Somerton & Frome

City of Westminster Planning Committee: Quintin Kynaston School

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(nb this is my own view of last night’s events, no more, no less)

Last night Westminster’s planning committee met to discuss among other matters two applications relating to QK School. First there was an outline application relating to the redevelopment of the main secondary school (QK) and then a detailed application relating to George Elliot, the infant and junior school (GE) and the Alternative Provision Centre (APC).

The outline application for QK was merely a report on progress, and was duly noted, but the GE and APC application was a detailed submission, where planning permission was being requested. The application quickly ran into trouble, the main issue seeming to be the difficulty of dealing with the applications for different parts of the site as separate unrelated entities. There are so many issues relating to GE and the APC that have to be dealt with in conjunction with QK, and indeed the Chair (Cllr Alastair Moss) stated that a “more holistic approach” was needed in dealing with the planning process for what is a major educational facility.

Although not on the planning committee, Abbey Road Councillor Lindsey Hall spoke on behalf of the residents and I must say she made a very powerful case for the holistic approach generally and for careful further examination of the GE/APC part and its impact on the local community.

There are particular issues with both pedestrian and motor traffic, parking, floodlighting in a residential area and the Environmental Impact Survey, especially with regard to the loss of green space.

Indeed, it was interesting to me how important the loss of trees is becoming in the planning process. As Cllr Robert Rigby said, every application which goes before the committee seems to involve cutting down trees, and he implied that this could not be allowed to go on unabated. Indeed there was a suspicion that the developers had pulled a fast one in that an aerial photograph of the area in question produced by a local residents group showed a greener space than that in the drawn illustration by the applicants. The Chair feared the possibility of “a landgrab of the most sensitive part of the site”.

The APC deserves particular comment – on top of general concerns about such a facility being sited in the middle of a residential area Cllr Hall declared that we are “on the verge of merging education services with Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea” (not sure how these Supercouncil ideas fit in with the Big Society/localism justification for listening to residents’ concerns) could mean that excluded pupils from all three boroughs end up here.

In short, the Chair felt the committee was “incapable of making a decision at the moment” and the application was not approved, with an acknowledgement that a full site visit needed to be convened asap (slightly surprising this hadn’t already taken place?!) and the application urgently re-submitted – there was a suggestion that a central funding window was imminently closing, if it hasn’t already.

The residents were delighted, the applicants naturally less so – round two mooted for January 2011.

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Written by markblackburn

December 3, 2010 at 11:22 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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