Charles Dickens Primary Expansion

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Tuesday 23 September 2014 10.16am
Hello there

I wonder if local residents have heard about the School's plans to expand.

It is major...with it possibly taking 9 months + building time to complete. Please check the schools website to view the plans - there was a consultation last night at the school - it is concerning how few people attended this.

They plan to erect a building covering almost all of the playground and this building will have an open floor on its roof - the total height in the region of 12 - 15 metres!! This floor will also have canopies at either ends.

There will also be raised (12m high) walkways at either end to and from the main building!

Any comments welcomed!

Caroline
Tuesday 23 September 2014 1.38pm
Caroline, were you one of the residents who expressed an interest in getting together as neighbours to put together comments for Southwark Council? There will not be another opportunity to comment until the planning application. As was put to us yesterday, if people do not comment, then the community's view will not be taken into account at this stage.

For anyone who is interested, the school's website includes some pictures of the plans. Please make your own impression and share your comments.

Also, for background, there is another thread concerning CD school, see "Lant Street".
Tuesday 23 September 2014 1.50pm
Emilie G wrote:
Caroline, were you one of the residents who expressed an interest in getting together as neighbours to put together comments for Southwark Council? There will not be another opportunity to comment until the planning application. As was put to us yesterday, if people do not comment, then the community's view will not be taken into account at this stage.
For anyone who is interested, the school's website includes some pictures of the plans. Please make your own impression and share your comments.

Also, for background, there is another thread concerning CD school, see "Lant Street".

I would definitely be interested in commenting. If indeed the expansion will go at the expense of vital open space, I'd definitely like to comment on that.
Tuesday 23 September 2014 3.07pm
A great school expanding to meet rising pupil numbers locally. Seems like a fine idea.

To be honest the existing playground space is pretty limited and not useful for PE and games, so a big new space on the roof seems like an excellent idea.

Declaration of interest: I trained to teach here and this is where I would like to send my children to school.
Tuesday 23 September 2014 3.19pm
Emilie G wrote:
Caroline, were you one of the residents who expressed an interest in getting together as neighbours to put together comments for Southwark Council? There will not be another opportunity to comment until the planning application. As was put to us yesterday, if people do not comment, then the community's view will not be taken into account at this stage.
For anyone who is interested, the school's website includes some pictures of the plans. Please make your own impression and share your comments.

Also, for background, there is another thread concerning CD school, see "Lant Street".

Hi Emilie yes i was, we spoke yesterday....
Tuesday 23 September 2014 4.57pm
Jridley68 wrote:
A great school expanding to meet rising pupil numbers locally. Seems like a fine idea.
To be honest the existing playground space is pretty limited and not useful for PE and games, so a big new space on the roof seems like an excellent idea.

Declaration of interest: I trained to teach here and this is where I would like to send my children to school.

Jridley68, if you look at the plans you will see that there will be no big new space on the roof. The architects were clear yesterday that it would be designed as a "non running around" space. The gangways leading from the main building are as far as I understand also not designed as an open playing space (however, since we looked at the plans etc only yesterday, we may have missed some of the subleties of the design... but then again maybe not!).
As a neighbour who overlooks the main playground, I can assure you that at the moment the kids run around the space, and this space will simply disappear once it has been built over. Many kids do not have access to open outside space outside of school hours.
under the plans, a much smaller playground will be left on the ground floor, fenced in and overlooked by the new structures.
And did we mention that the existing trees are going too? The architects were pretty flippant about detrying them and "putting a new one in" ("a" tree being the operative word here...)
Tuesday 23 September 2014 5.53pm
To anyone interested in viewing the plans for CD school as presented during the public consultation meeting on Monday 22 September: please note that neither Southwark Council's nor the architects' (Macreanor Lavington) websites have any any useful information/plans.
I will request information from Southwark Council and post back.
Wednesday 24 September 2014 12.48pm
The school blog now has additional images about the proposal as well as the contact details of the Southwark project manager. There's also a general description of the plans:
"Following the information session on 22nd September at Charles Dickens Primary, we are sharing additional images of the proposed additional buildings. The large building on the site of the main playground is to be a new kitchen and school hall. These will be larger than the current facilities to accommodate the additional children and lunch requirements etc.
On the roof of this new building will be a ‘Quiet Garden’ or Study Terrace to allow for further growing of plants etc and outdoor learning. Additional classrooms for the extra pupils will be created by dividing the current ground floor hall and using the current kitchen.
As seen in the pictures, the new build is designed to echo and reflect the Victorian buildings around it. Further detailed plans etc will be available as part of the planning application which will be submitted once the local community has had the opportunity to reflect on the designs and feedback to the Southwark Project Manager.

MLUK-405-20-ConsultationBoards_140922-DRAFT-Small

please address any comments and feedback to Susan Fuller ( Southwark Project Manager) at susan.fuller@southwark.gov.uk" [end quote]

Note in particular the "Areal view from the South West corner" which clearly shows the "The large building on the site of the main playground" mentioned in the description.
Effectively, most of the current playground will be built over, to a height going up to the 2nd floor of the building. What is now an open space where children can run freely will be replaced by a much smaller courtyard playground, elevated walkways surrounded by railings, and spaces which "will not be for running around" (dixit architects on Monday and as per the "Quiet Garden" above). A number of people present at the public consultation were highly sceptical of the plans, which
- will deprive the children of the one bigger open space they have (many children do not get to run and play in the open outside school); and
- mean there will be substantial buildings which will obstruct views and access to sunlight, and bring school noise much closer to the buidlings, incl. flats, surrounding the school. The architects have done no study of the noise impact on the surrounding area (coming from a school which most already consider to be a very noisy neighbour).

My conclusion from Monday's consultation was that neither the school (headteacher who left shortly past 7pm in the middle of a discussion), nor the architects seemed to have considered the surrounding neighbourhood in their plans. And it may be that the constrainsts relating to the other side of the site (which I understand is not the school's, see "Lant Street" thread) have influenced the decision to build on the main playground. The school and Southwark Council should first sort out the situation about that part of the site, before sacrificing a playground which has served generations of children. Amid constant talk about rising levels of obesity and insufficient levels of fitness in children, CD school and Southward Council will take away the free play open space (sunlit during parts of the day) which the children have access to. If I was a parent of a CD child, I would be demonstrating outside the school gates right now.
Interestingly, there were no parents at Monday's consultation meeting (except one dad who was a resident of building opposite school and who would have got the letter from Southwark Council). I wonder whether parents have been kept up to dat with the plans?
Wednesday 24 September 2014 1.50pm
Parents have been kept up to date with the plans and were invited to the meeting.

I assume the reasons why there weren't loads of parents at the meeting were:

- that they have already had access/insight to the details of the plan (which, in itself would probably not have been a shock. Rather it's a foreseeable consequence of moving to a two-form entry, which everyone's known about for ages)

- that they're happy with the plans/accept that there will be a trade-off between classroom and hall space and outdoor space.

Getting a primary school place at somewhere that's local and half-decent is far from guaranteed if you live near CD. CD is a well-rated school with a lot of demand for places.

What should be done?
- magic up some land in the area (that doesn't exist) and build a new school to fill demand for places?

- have insufficient classroom space for an expanding school?

- let CD annexe even more of the road to build on?

- prevent a well-rated school from expanding to meet demand?

- (my personal favourite) prevent schools like St Joseph's and Cathedral from restricting free access to children who live nearby on the grounds that they aren't franchised to a particular religion?

There doesn't seem to be an easy solution. Playground space is only one element of the larger picture.

(And as for the comment about "children don't get chance to run around outdoors other than at school"...I'd say that's a shame on the parents, as there's a good provision of playground space in the vicinity of CD. Go to Mint St, for example, after school, and see the number of CD children happily running around.)

...if you press it, they will come.
Wednesday 24 September 2014 2.55pm
Ivanhoe, you say as part of your "What should be done": "let CD annexe even more of the road to build on?". I assume you are against CD school permanently using the land which used to be the road?
However, the plans as presented are based on the assumption that CD school will keep that land, otherwise, in the event that land was made public again, there would simply not be enough playground space for the number of children which would attend the school.

This then brings me back to my main question: why does school expansion have to be at the expense of the main playground, with the massive impact for the kids and the neighbours surrounding the school, when there is land on the other side of the site?
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