New School Streets will be created to reduce traffic around a school at a former police station in the centre of Hackney.
It’s hoped that the first one in St John’s Church Street will open in the autumn when the Olive School is allowed to accommodate all 630 pupils on the one site in Lower Clapton Road.
Currently the school’s pupils are based at three different places around the borough – including New College in Hoxton and Cazenove Road in Stoke Newington.
The initial plan to open the school at the former police station was rejected by Hackney’s planning committee but approved on appeal by the Secretary of State.
A condition meant it could initially only have 90 pupils at the converted police station, with gradual increases until 2023. This was amended to 180 pupils a year.
The school went back to the planning committee (28 July) after the temporary sites became unavailable. The school asked if it could welcome all its students to a single site in September.
Olive School principal Babar Mirza told the planning committee: “Pupils will no longer need to miss 20 to 30 minutes of learning time daily to catch a minibus to travel between sites – that’s three weeks a year.
“Pupils will no longer have to miss after-school clubs and enrichment activities because their sibling’s on another site. No more eating lunches from plastic takeaway containers, no more queueing up or walking through other classrooms to use the toilets.”
He added: “We will all feel far less vulnerable during any future Covid outbreak.”
Mirza explained that the government’s education recovery plan “will be seriously hindered if we continue to operate on multiple sites”.
Most pupils live within a two-kilometre catchment area and many live even closer, the committee was told. Three quarters of them also have siblings at the school so many parents are already travelling to at least one of the sites.
However, 29 per cent of the pupils come to school by car – one of the highest uses of private transport seen by the council’s School Streets team.
The council had also received complants about traffic and parking.
This prompted its decision to extend School Streets – where traffic is not allowed at school drop-off and collection times – from St John’s Church.
The school will provide £225,000 to help mitigate the impact of transport – including £135,000 towards new School Streets, which could be at Sutton Place, Clapton Square and Sutton Square, and two new automatic number plate recognition cameras.
The school said there will no longer be a need for the five school buses which are taking children from the three sites.