Say Yes to building a sustainable future for St Mark's Primary School
- Ealing Council, The Mayor of London, The Greater London Assembly
- United Kingdom
BULLET POINT SUMMARY
Halt current plans immediately in order to:
- Stop demolition of parts of the original school
- Revisit the design with long-term future in mind
- Acquire the site of number 42 Lower Boston Road - more children need more space not less.
We are all aware that the population of the London Borough of Ealing, and the UK is increasing. This brings with it an increase in the number of children living locally requiring primary school places. As all children living in the UK are expected to attend school until at least the age of 16, our primary and secondary schools are undergoing immediate expansion.
St Mark’s Primary School in Lower Boston Road, Hanwell W7 2NR is no exception.
As parents, and local residents, we recognise that St Mark’s needs to expand to provide more primary school places, but we believe that this should be done in a planned, strategic, respectful and sustainable way that minimises the disruption to the education of the children already at the school, and provides superlative facilities for the children attending in the future.
Ealing Council is currently consulting some proposals that will provide facilities for a ‘three class bulge’ rather than for a realistic, recognised need for an increase in capacity to three-form-entry throughout the school for the foreseeable future.
It is only three years since the last permanent expansion classrooms were built in a poorly planned and executed manner. The new building to the south/west of the site was not fit for purpose when it first opened and certainly is not fit now.
In our view, it is essential for the physical and mental wellbeing of children attending the school now, and in the future, that these plans are well thought through, and forward-looking. They need to provide both classroom space and adequate play space. They need also to acknowledge that the school community comprises more than just the teachers, administrative staff and the pupils. A healthy primary school should include the parents in the school community, so there must be space for them to wait and chat at the start and end of the day.
St Mark’s Primary School is a locally-listed building in the St Mark’s and Canal Conservation Area.
The Council’s Proposals
The Council announced the preliminary consultation through a patchily circulated, door-to-door letter. This was only delivered a couple of days before the plans went on view at the school, on Thursday 11th February between 4pm and 7pm, for parents and community to see and make comments on. The consultation closed four days later on Monday 15th February which was during Half Term.
We are told that formal plans reflecting the proposals ostensibly consulted, will be submitted to the Planning Process in the next couple of weeks with the intention of starting the building works this Summer.
We believe that this is a rushed consultation and that it has produced knee-jerk plans which fail to address the medium and long-term needs of the school.
The proposals comprise a new two storey block with dining hall on the ground floor and three new classrooms for teaching above, along with a major re-organisation of existing space, and provision of additional, non-teaching facilities.
Whilst we recognise the need to improve the non-teaching facilities within the school, this should not be at the expense of damaging the character of the original heritage architecture and nature of the school. In particular the proposals also involve creating a new main entrance to the school on Green Lane and on providing much larger administrative and non-teaching areas.
In our view the emphasis should be on provision of well-lit and adequately-sized classrooms and retention and even expansion of play space, to accommodate the enlarged school population.
The proposed new entrance would worsen the already congested Green Lane and add to the dangers of poor parking and excessive traffic at drop off and pick up.
This building would involve the demolition of one of the head teachers’ houses from the original school, built in 1855.The demolition site would be at the heart of our school. The new building would be crammed adjacent to the original school hall, blocking the natural light into the large west-facing windows.
This will be the second major construction project in four years, so some of the children will have spent a significant chunk of their primary school life surrounded by the noise, dust and dirt generated by the heavy plant machinery of a building site. Not to mention the severe restriction to outdoor play space.
St Mark’s Primary School is a locally listed building because of its heritage. It was the first ‘national’ school (as opposed to a charity school) to be built in Hanwell. It was built on land donated from his glebe by the Rector of St Mary’s Church, Hanwell to replace the Charity School built by the Hobbayne Charity on their land to the west of what is now Half Acre Road.
The school was always troubled by overcrowding as Hanwell expanded and extensions were built in 1871, 1884 and 1895 which have contributed to the heritage architecture. It is a credit to all those previous expansions that the 1855 building is preserved.
The original school building survives intact as the central ‘E’ block of St Mark’s School, encompassing what is now the small hall, the current Nursery and After School Club, the Caretaker’s House and the Head Teacher’s offices. These were formerly the Head Mistress’ and the Head Master’s Houses at either end, linked by the original girls’ and boys’ classrooms.
Under the current plans, the Caretaker’s House - the old Head Master’s House, an integral part of the locally listed building - is scheduled for demolition.
Overall the proposed plans provide a poorly thought out, short-term answer to a longer term issue and any plans must endeavour to provide a future-proof solution to the acknowledged need to expand our school.
We, the undersigned, petition Ealing Council, the Mayor of London and the Greater London Assembly to reject the current plans which propose to accommodate a three class bulge at St Mark’s Primary School, Hanwell W7 2NR.
We ask you to recognise that this will probably not be a temporary expansion, but a long-term one; design a sustainable solution that will provide superlative facilities for the future, rather than a ‘temporary fix’ that will cause significant disruption to students and curtailment of school activities; respect the locally listed building and create an alternative proposal to accommodate the necessary school expansion that does not damage the heritage of the original Victorian school or current and future pupils' environment.
The Say Yes to building a sustainable future for St Mark's Primary School petition to Ealing Council, The Mayor of London, The Greater London Assembly was written by 42 is the Answer and is in the category Education at GoPetition.