Residents claim site for new academy in Wembley is on publicly-owned land

Cllr Muhammed Butt is cornered by protestors demanding answers over hidden plans within Ark Elvin pl

Cllr Muhammed Butt is cornered by protestors demanding answers over hidden plans within Ark Elvin planning applications to be discussed at planning meeting Pic credit: Adam Thomas - Credit: Archant

Residents in Wembley are objecting to plans to build a school on public green space used by the community for decades.

Annabel Bates is the principal of the academy

Annabel Bates is the principal of the academy - Credit: Archant

Brent Council handed the publicly-owned land to Ark Elvin Academy in Cecil Avenue, so it can be used as the site of a new state-of-the-art secondary school.

But angry residents are questioning the legalities of the proposals claiming the land is a public right of way.

Chetan Patel, a quantity surveyor who has lived in nearby Jesmond Avenue for 29 years, said: “The community has had access to the existing park without any objections from Ark or from the previous management of Copland Community School for many decades now.”

He continued: “I am claiming that all of the playing field is a public right of way in accordance to the Highways Act. The law assumes that if the public uses a path without interference for some period of time, set by statute at 20 years, then the owner had intended to dedicate it as a right of way.

“The proposed development of the school can only be described as ‘land-grab’ with no consideration for the community users and the law. This planning application must be deferred.”

Jaine Lunn, from Wembley Futures community group, added: “The park and right of way is on public land although the school maintains it. Where was the public consultation? There was no public inquiry.

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“In this borough we are 50 per cent below what we should have in green space. They are going to build in the park. They will move the school then demolish the old one and on that land probably build housing.

“By the time they’ve finished there will be no park.”

Angry campaigners challenged Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, as he visited the site last Saturday.

Cllr Butt told the Times: “As is normal practice, it will be for the planning committee to consider this application and make a decision on it.”

Annabel Bates, principal of the academy, said: “Ark Elvin is working with Brent Council and the Education Funding Agency to develop a new state of the art school building which will bring real benefit to our students.

“We know that some community groups and local primary schools informally use land that belongs to the school, and we are working with them to make arrangements for them to carry on using these.”

A decision on whether a new school can be built on the land will be made on Thursday.

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