Approval sought for new Putney school

Published: Friday 14th September 12

Councillors on the planning committee will be asked to determine proposals for a new primary school in Putney when they meet next week.

The planning applications committee will examine plans for the new school, which if approved, would be built on the site of the vacant and semi-derelict Putney Hospital on Putney Common.

If the plans are given the go-ahead, much of the 1.05 hectare hospital site would be restored to common land.

The total footprint of the new build would occupy 0.50 of a hectare. The remaining 0.55 of a hectare, which includes land occupied partly by the former nurses accommodation, car parks and existing access roads would be reclaimed as common land.

The application calls for the demolition of the hospital site's existing empty buildings and their replacement with a two storey primary school with enclosed playground space on the roof.

Part of the site, currently occupied by the vacant nurse's quarters at its northern end, would be used to provide 24 flats in a residential block of up to four storeys.

The sale of these flats would part-finance the building of the new school, which would be run as an academy and have two forms of entry - eventually providing places for up to 420 local children.

The council's education spokesman Cllr Kathy Tracey, who does not sit on the planning committee, has warned that a steadily rising birth rate means the borough desperately needs new school places.

Across Wandsworth as a whole the annual birth rate has shot up from 4,000 births a year in 2001 to nearly 6,000 a year a decade later. This upward trend is set to continue in the years ahead.

In Putney's Thamefield ward, where the new school is proposed, there is a predicted shortfall of 60 primary school places in 2014. This shortfall would then fluctuate around the 50 mark between then and 2020.

This means that without new places being provided, as many as one in four children in Thamesfield ward could soon be without a reception place.

Across the borough 13.5 additional classes will be needed in the next three years. By 2020 this could have risen to an extra 25 more classes being needed each year.

Cllr Tracey said the urgent need to provide new school places was one of the council's biggest priorities.

"The prospect of hundreds of local children with no school place cannot become a reality," she said.

"But the problem is not just funding the building works. Potential sites for new schools are in extremely short supply in inner city boroughs like ours and the proposed new school on the site of the former Putney hospital is desperately needed."

The council already has school expansion plans in place to meet some of the rising demand. An extra £7.6m is currently being spent on providing 30 places each at Smallwood, Hillbrook, Swaffield, Shaftesbury Park, West Hill, Riversdale, Southmead and Granard schools.

In addition, the Government has approved three new local free schools. Tooting Primary in Franciscan Road and Rutherford House School on the Balham Youth Court site are both due to open in September 2013 providing 60 places each per year. The South London Jewish Free School also has Government approval to open in 2013 but has yet to find a site.

Councillors on the planning applications committee will discuss the proposals on Wednesday, September 19.

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