St John’s Wood school redevelopment set to go ahead despite residents’ objections

The final details of a controversial �40million St John’s Wood school redevelopment look set to be given the green light despite the threat of a judicial review being brought by angry residents.

Detailed planning permission was granted by Westminster Council in February to rebuild part of the Quintin Kynaston and George Elliot schools site and add an Alternative Provision Centre (APC).

At a follow-up meeting tonight, the council is set to rubber stamp plans for the rest of the site, including further replacement buildings, outdoor sports pitches for out-of-hours community use, and the provision of a respite and re-engagement unit.

However, regardless of the council’s decision, Marlborough Hill Residents Association has already applied for permission to submit a judicial review.

Residents argue that the council failed to properly assess the full impact of the APC, including its effect on crime and anti-social behaviour, while the application’s environmental statements did not fulfil the required criteria.

More than 200 residents had objected to the original application on a number of different grounds.

Marlborough Hill resident representative Dick Schumacher says the provision of both an APC and a respite and re-engagement unit will allow for too many excluded pupils on site.

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“Residents didn’t take the decision to apply for a review easily,” he said.

“We do support the redevelopment of the schools on the site but we felt that the council had failed to listen to our legitimate concerns and objections with the application’s ability to address ongoing problems with anti-social behaviour.

“There was a sensible proposal from Cllr Lindsey Hall that the number of excluded students on the site would be kept at 50, which is more than they have now.

“Applying for a review was the only option we had left and we understand from our solicitor we have quite a strong case.”

Approval of the final details of the application would see a maximum of 100 excluded students located on the site with 50 in the APC and 50 in the respite and re-engagement unit.

Residents had been campaigning for community use of the sports facilities to end at 6.30pm on weekdays with no opening on weekends. If the planning committee approves officers’ recommendations, two of the sports pitches will be open until 8pm on weekdays and until 6pm on Saturdays.

Work has already begun on the southern part of the site with the total redevelopment due to be completed by 2014.