News / 23 February, 2011

Hackney Downs school plan in question after backlash from residents

The council is reviewing the responses to its consultation on building a ‘School for the Future’ on common land

Hackney Downs Photo Graham Parry

Hackney Downs. Photo: Graham Parry

Following an an outcry by local residents who have expressed anger over plans to build a school on Hackney Downs, Hackney Council is “currently reviewing the feedback received.”

Residents have been up in arms over Hackney Council’s consultation proposing to rebuild Stormont House school on top of the bowling green and old tennis court on the Downs. The Council and Learning Trust want to rebuild the school as part of the national Building Schools for the Future programme.

Alan Maddox and other locals have criticised the proposal to “plonk a school in the middle of the public park”. Commenting on the plans, he said, “Residents do understand the need for excellent educational facilities for children, but also that open spaces need to be protected.”

Included in the plans is the proposal to  grass over the land that the school is currently situated on so that it can become common land – effectively a common land ‘swap’. However, locals are concerned that, regardless of what the building looks like, it will still be a building on what is common land.

In a statement, the council said: “As soon as this feedback has been assessed, a consultation report will be made publicly available. At the same time, the council has continued to explore any available options for a temporary decant, which would allow Stormont House School to be rebuilt on its existing site.

“No decision has been taken on the location of the new school. This will be determined following a comprehensive review of the informal consultation report. It was important to Council that the feelings of local residents were gathered, as any alteration in the distribution of green space needs to be carefully considered. Any altered use of common land requires a full public consultation and consent from the Planning Inspectorate.”

/ 23 February, 2011
  • Pinter

    Well done for highlighting this Hackney Citizen

  • Barbie

    disabled kids remain in rundown school but nimbys keep grass for dogs to crap on

    at best the disabled children of Stormont wil now have to suffer a massive disruption whilst they are relocated and the old school demolished and rebuilt

    whereas at no actual loss of space for the park the new school could have been built nearby and the children could have remained in the old school til it was ready at which point the old school site could be returned to park use – a much shorter and easier process for many who are vulnerable to change of environment and who will now have to move out of the existing school onto a temporary site elsewhere and then back to the new school

    well done

  • SENmum

    I am concerned about the pupils of Stormont House. They are among our most vulnerable Hackney citizens, unable to speak up as vociferously as residents, homeowners and dog walkers. Most of the children have complex social and emotional, social communication or mental health needs including autism.

    ‘A temporary decant’ sounds easy to pull off but it means enormous disruption in the education of children who already have problems with their learning.

    The decant will probably involve placing the children in unsuitable premises while the building work takes place. About a fifth of the pupils at Stormont have autism and find any kind of change extremely difficult to cope with. The decant will have a knock on affect on their behaviour at home and at school and affect their ability to learn.

    These children deserve modern premises like all other children in the borough. The local councillor hinted the school could be built nearer the edge of the park close to its current location instead. That sounds like a sensible solution – I hope it is one the residents will accept.

  • The idea of rebuilding Stormont School anywhere other than where it is now was always a mad fantasy invented by bureaucrats trying to save money. The plan to build on the bowling green and tennis court was utterly ill conceived and rejected for those reasons. Rather than lacking a voice the children and staff at Stormont were the only people who could have benefited from the idiotic idea to dump the school in the middle of the park. Anger on behalf those at Stormont should be directed at the Council and BSF for raising hopes of the impossible, i.e. a rebuild on virgin land adjacent to the site. Land is extremely valuable in London and that’s why no alternative site rebuild would ever have been considered unless Common Land could be stolen. The proposed land swap would have exchanged land, trees and shrubs in the centre of the park with a lawn surrounded by roads on all sides in front of the new school. Even the local Labour councillors rejected the idea.
    Parks are extremely valuable to everyone and thousands of non-human life forms (biodiversity). To dismiss mature cherry trees, 150m of mature hedge and shrubs, a tennis court and old bowling green as “nimbys keep grass for dogs to crap on” is not only completely inaccurate (dogs rarely enter the old bowling green or tennis court) it demonstrates and lack of understanding of the importance of green space for everyone. Stormont will be rebuilt on its existing site. There is no alternative unless BSF come up the the £1m or so needed to buy a new site. The question people should be addressing their minds to is how to do the rebuild and temporary classrooms so as to minimise disruption to everyone.


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