Swaminarayan School closure: Plan for replacement Hindu school in Northwick Park quashed

The Swaminarayan School in Neasden is closing

The Swaminarayan School in Neasden is closing - Credit: Archant

Any desires to build a new Hindu school at Northwick Park to replace the closing fee-paying school in Neasden have been dashed – for now.

Council chiefs ended a six month discussion at the end of July on whether public land around Northwick Park Hospital could be used to build a school and the answer, for now at least, is no.

The Swaminarayan School in Brentfield Road – run by the operators of Neasden Temple – announced its shock closure last month.

Trustees had decided to shut from 2019 because of falling income and increased competition. Following a series of heated meetings with parents, it was agreed to delay the closure first to 2020 and then prospectively to 2021. Now it has been pushed back to 2022 but uncertainty remains as to whether the preparatory school will also remain open for three years.

In a commons debate on July 18 Bob Blackman, Harrow East MP (Con) raised the potential use of Northwick Park for a replacement Hindu school.

He said the Avanti Schools Trust, which gained government approval to build a school in Brent in 2016, was still looking for a site.

Brent Council plans to redevelop Northwick Park as part of the government’s One Public Estate, which allows the use of public land for developments.

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At the same time, part of this land, locally known as The Ducker, is owned by BAPS, the same group that runs the Swaminarayan School.

Both have public opposition as it is classified at Metropolitan Open Land and described in council documents as a “valuable biodiversity site”.

A council spokesperson said: “There are no plans for a new school on the Northwick Park site currently and Brent has a sufficient number of primary school places. Given the decision to close the independent Swaminarayan School, if the site is going to become available, now might be a good opportunity for the trustees of the potential new Avanti free school to have a conversation with the Swaminarayan School trustees to explore if there are ways the two organisations can work together to retain a school on the site.”

A BAPS spokesperson said: “The trustees do not have any immediate plans for the land.”

See letters, page 13