New free school in Wembley to remove advertising banner after failing to get planning permission

Michaela Community School's banner which did not have planning permission. Pic Martin Francis

Michaela Community School's banner which did not have planning permission. Pic Martin Francis - Credit: Archant

Billboard on Arena House was put up without consent

A proposed new free school in Wembley unveiled a giant banner proclaiming its imminent opening, without being granted planning permission.

The banner – from the Michaela Community School (MCS) encourages parents to contact the school for a chance to get their children a place - adorns the side of Arena House in North End Road.

However, it has transpired the school were not granted planning permission for the banner which says MCS purports to adopt “private school values” and “strong discipline.”

MCS, which is due to open in Arena House, next September, is the brainchild of free school supporter Katharine Birbalsingh. It has previously failed to open twice in South London.

Free schools are controversial with their critics because they are free from local authority control and can set their own curriculum and admissions policy.

However they have promised it wants to become “part of the community”.

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A Brent Council spokesman told the Times: “Advertisement consent was not granted for the sign and we have raised this with the new owners of the site.

‘Advertisement consent was refused after an application was received in 2008 which was later dismissed on appeal in 2009 when the College of North West London occupied the building.

“The current sign has been raised with the new owners of the site, the Michaela Trust, to pursue its removal’

However, when the Times questioned the school about the banner they said it was always meant to be a temporary advertisement. A spokesman said: “That site has been used previously as a banner site under the building’s former owners and we did approach the council for permission.

“We wanted to let people know what we were doing and look for responses and have had a great reaction from parents.

“If anyone else is keen to advertise there we would be happy to speak to them as we want to be part of the Brent community.”

According to the school the banner was due to be taken down as the Times went to press yesterday, Wednesday.