Brent Council gives the green light to controversial �8million school

Concerns voiced over viability of project

A controversial project to rebuild a school which was delayed over fears of a judicial review and a government clawback of funding is a step closer.

Brent Council has granted planning approval for a �8million scheme to redevelop Islamia Primary School in Salusbury Road, Queen’s Park, as part of borough-wide plans to create extra school places.

The approval paves the way for a new three-storey building which will include 14 classrooms, a library and a specialist teaching room for pupils with special needs. It will create 30 extra school places.

It had been delayed by six months after a group of residents under the name We Love Queen’s Park threatened to launch a judicial review case against the council over concerns their consultation was flawed.

Questions have also been raised over the viability of the project. The Times revealed in February that the council withdrew �3m of funding due to concerns the project wouldn’t be built to schedule and the government could take back its money.

The funding was reinstated in April after the Department of Education agreed to push its spending deadline back to next March provided that �1.2m of it was spent before April. But the project’s spend still falls short, meaning that the government could get its money back.

Most Read

Stephen Haggard, of We Love Queen’s Park, said: “The council has said funding is a material consideration, and yet what we know is that the funding is not secure.

“Why isn’t the council considering what will happen if the work has to stop halfway through, leaving children in a school which has been half-bulldozed?

“I am alarmed the council has given the go-ahead to a project for which funding is not secure. This is not a proper way to proceed.”

Outlining the proposals, council officers acknowledged that public funding for the programme may be subject to “some level of uncertainty” given the economic climate. However, they were confident the cash would be available.

Cllr Mary Arnold (Lab, Kilburn), lead member for schools, said: “This project is very much going on a step-by-step basis. If there is a judicial review then that would have to take its course.”