Government minister may intervene over plans to expand primary school in North Wembley
PUBLISHED: 12:17 01 April 2016 | UPDATED: 15:51 01 April 2016
A government minister is considering whether to intervene over controversial plans to increase a primary school in North Wembley into one of the biggest in the country.
The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, is considering if he should ‘call-in’ the planning application for the expansion of Byron Court Primary School following a request from Labour MP Barry Gardiner.
The school in Spencer Road, will increase from three to five form entry with an additional nursery, surging from 600 places to 1,050, despite 90 per cent of respondents to a consultation being opposed against the plans.
Residents said they are concerned about children’s learning, their education and the impact on increased traffic on its narrow roads claiming it poses a danger.
They handed in a 1,000-signature petition against the expansion before it was approved by the council in March.
Mr Gardiner, MP for Brent North, accused the council of prioritising new places over pupils’ education and lodged a complaint about the plans to the Department for Education.
He visited the DfE headquarters in February with Martin Dickens, chairman of the Parents Against Byron School Expansion and Suzanne D’Souza, chairwoman of the Sudbury Court Residents Association, to submit their objections.
Yesterday Mr Gardiner received a letter from MP Brandon Lewis, Minister of State for Housing and Planning, informing him that Mr Clark was considering whether to ‘call-in’ the planning application.
If he decides he will there will be a public inquiry into the expansion plans which will be chaired by a planning inspector or a lawyer before a recommendation is made to Mr Clark.
However Mr Clark can reject the recommentions and make a final decision on whether the expansion can go ahead.
Mr Gardiner said: “I pay tribute to the local residents and parents who contested the proposed expansion of this school from the outset.
“The proposals will disrupt the education of current pupils whilst wreaking long term havoc upon the local area at drop-off and pick-up times.
“Residents are already struggling to cope with the existing traffic volumes and simply cannot take any more. Whilst I absolutely appreciate the difficulty that Brent Council has in meeting its statutory duty to find school places for all children in the Borough following the Government’s education reforms, it is staggering that Byron Court is considered an appropriate location for expansion.
“The traffic impact assessments and the assumptions used by the council to push this application through simply do not stand up and I am delighted that the secretary of state is now looking to see whether he can intervene.”
A spokeswoman for Brent Council said: “Following a request made by Barry Gardiner MP, the Secretary of State for Planning is currently considering whether or not to call-in the Byron Court School application.
“We have requested that a decision is made quickly and in the meantime, we have made representations to the Secretary of State in support of the planning committee’s decision to approve the application.”