The Borough Planner 25 April 2012
Wandsworth High Street
Dear Ms Manchanda,
Planning application 2012/0758 – Primary School on site of former Putney Hospital, Commondale SW15
I have been contacted by a number of constituents regarding the planning application to site a new free school on the site of the former Putney Hospital.
My experience as the local MP certainly supports the view that Putney needs another primary school, in addition to the expansion of existing schools which has already taken place. Parents regularly get in touch to express their concerns that they are unable to obtain a primary school place for their child. However, it is clear that any new proposals need to fit in with the broader environment and community. Residents have raised a number of valid concerns about the plans for the school on this particular site and I would be grateful if these could be taken into account when considering this application.
The primary concern of residents is that of transport. Many feel that the Vectos transport assessment was poor and failed to address a number of important issues. Their overriding concern is that the siting of a school here will have a huge impact on local traffic which is already very congested, particularly at peak times which will coincide with the beginning and end of the school day. Residents believe that traffic using the new vehicular access to and from the school will find it difficult to filter into the traffic on the Lower Richmond Road. The flow of traffic along this road is slow, especially near the mini roundabout where there have been a number of accidents. There are additional concerns that this will not be a genuinely local school - especially as it will be so near the boundary with Richmond - and that this will also lead to an increase in traffic.
On the site itself, some residents feel that the number of parking spaces allocated for staff at the school is inadequate. The lack of parking on site will also force parents and other visitors to use residential roads in the surrounding area which are already heavily parked. They are not convinced that the drop off and pick up area on the school site is large enough to accommodate the potential number of those parents wishing to use it and feel that many will choose to deliver their children in person.
Many residents have also expressed their disappointment at the design of the new school. It is situated on a significant approach into Putney and in a unique area of common land which is integral to Putney’s character. They have commented that the design is not attractive and does not complement its surroundings on the common. Many believe that it is too big a school for this particular site and feel that it has been ‘shoe-horned’ into the site rather than designed in a considered way. Most would also prefer to see a smaller school and fewer flats.
A number of residents have raised concerns relating to health and safety. They feel that the school is sited very close to a busy road and are concerned about the effect that pollution could have on the health of the pupils. Many are also concerned that it is proposed to have the playground on the roof of the building and are worried about possible noise which may carry more from that position than if the playground was on the ground level. There is also concern about the children’s safety.
Many residents who have contacted me are concerned that a school on this site will undermine the fundamental nature of the common land which offers residents peace and tranquillity.
Finally, a number of constituents have been concerned about the consultation process itself. Many feel that there has been insufficient publicity about the development and that the public exhibition was on display for too short a time to allow enough residents to visit. I understand that there have been several inaccuracies on the application which perhaps has deterred residents from engaging fully in the process.
I would appreciate it if you could ensure residents’ concerns are fully considered as part of planning process.
Rt Hon Justine Greening MP