Residents fighting school expansion plans accuse Brent Council of snubbing ‘crucial evidence’
PUBLISHED: 16:44 10 May 2016 | UPDATED: 16:51 10 May 2016
Residents living near a primary school in north Wembley controversially given a green light to expand have accused the council planning committee of “omitting crucial evidence”.
Sudbury Residents Association (SRA) say highway reports expressing the dangers of expanding Byron Court Primary School in Spencer Road, were not included in planning reports nor discussed at the committee meeting in April when the application was passed.
The highway report, seen by the Times, concluded the school had “an existing parking and traffic congestion problem” and recommended “the proposal should be resisted at the present time on Highway Safety grounds.”
The school will now 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.
Kaye James, chair of the SRA, said: “There’s been no sign of democracy in this process; it’s shocked me on a large level. There is a non availability of car parking spaces resulting in parents’ parking across drives, blocking residents’ access. This has been and still is major problem and a cause of conflict between parents and residents.
“The highways report explained the expansion shouldn’t go ahead. That wasn’t submitted to the planning committee because it wasn’t in the planning report. It omitted crucial information for them to make a decision.”
She said at the planning committee meeting the SRA got three minutes to talk and were asked no questions by councillors.
She added: “The school was given five minutes then subsequently allowed to bring members of their team, architects, designers. They were given close to an hour and all their claims went unchallenged.
“I’ve been shocked and angered by it. It’s so blatant.
“Building starts in July then that’s it. The traffic issues and antisocial behaviour goes beyond to the children and the community. One was nearly hit by a car which attempted to mount the footway. You can’t put your finger in your ear and go la la la.”
Barry Gardiner, Labour MP for Brent North, visited the Department for Education in February to highlight residents’ concerns about the expansion.
He has backed their claims, saying: “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.”
A spokeswoman for Brent Council said: “All matters were properly considered by the planning committee, including transport matters. The report clearly sets out a wide range of concerns and the planning committee agreed planning conditions to deal with these. Members were fully briefed and proper advice was available to committee members before and during the committee meeting.”