St John’s Wood residents given hope over controversial school development

Plan to re-develop Quintin Kynaston school is delayed for planning committee to address residents’ concerns

ST JOHN’S WOOD residents have been given a boost after a controversial school development was delayed by a Westminster council planning committee.

Planning chiefs last week decided to postpone their decision on the proposed redevelopment of the Quintin Kynaston and George Eliot schools site on Marlborough Hill, insisting they would not like to reach a ruling without adequate consideration.

The development will see both schools rebuilt with the addition of indoor and outdoor sports facilities for community use, and an alternative provision centre for excluded students.

Speaking at the meeting on behalf of more than 200 residents who have objected to the proposals, Abbey Road councillor Lindsey Hall said: “We have more of a duty than ever to allow local people to shape their own neighbourhood. I do think this is a chance to have Big Society and localism at work.

“Residents are in favour of development of the site but they object to not being taken into account. We just want to engage with the developers.

“There are three major issues that have caused most grief for residents and councillors: anti-social behaviour including the APC, out of hours sports use, and loss of green space and trees. The truth of the matter is the local community feels it already has some very good local sports facilities.

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“We are going to be accused of being Nimbys but the residents were very well aware of the school when they chose to live where they do. However, part of the agreement is the respite they get on evenings, weekends and holidays.

“This development really would mean there will be no respite. We want to achieve a desirable and attractive school that’s suits everybody.”

Postponing their ruling until after they have conducted a site visit, committee chairman Cllr Alastair Moss said there is a long way to go before a decision is made.

“The issues are very complex,” he said. “There’s no agenda here for us as a committee to be dealing with this as a fait accompli. As a planning authority we will be rigorous in how we deal with this application.

“We will be harsh if we need to be to ensure we uphold our planning remit.”

Speaking about the issue of a loss of trees and green space he added: “This does look like a bit of a land grab of the most sensitive parts of the site.

“It seems quite a high price to pay for the development. We would be losing some species that are not replaceable.”

The meeting saw two applications put forward, one for proposals in the northern section to be noted, and the other for those in the southern section to be approved.

Noting the first application and delaying the second, Cllr Moss echoed residents and councillors’ sentiments that the development would benefit from a more holistic approach, combining the applications together.

Responding to the committee’s decision, one anonymous Marlborough Hill resident said: “I think there’s a quiet satisfaction that they have taken notice of a lot of issues and we will get a fair crack of the whip.

“From day one there were massive objections here and we were greeted with massive indifference from the development team. We are not against the school but we just want our views to be taken into account.”

It is expected the applications will be put before the planning committee again at their next meeting on January 13.