Enfield Council outlines plans to build a school in Grovelands Park

on Monday, 22 July 2013. Posted in N21 Community

 

On Thursday July 18th, afternoon, Gary Barnes, the Council's 'School Scout' (Assistant Director Regeneration, Leisure and Libraries) addressed a meeting of a hundred plus people, to present an outline plan to build a new two form entry primary school in the South West corner of Grovelands Park.

 

Whilst the proposed site is within the boundary of the original Repton designed estate, the eight acre site being proposed is partly owned by Thames Water, with the remainder of the belonging to Enfield Council, and is overgrown and poorly maintained. Gary Barnes was quick to point out to a largely hostile audience that this is a 'concept', but new school places are urgently needed in this part of the Borough and the Council hasn't identified any other suitable sites (although members of the audience were able to come up with a couple of suggestions).

 

The first hurdle the Council faces is English Heritage approval, because the land was designated a "2-star park" designed by Repton & Morson – one of only five such parks in the country. A fuller public consultation process will not start until there has been a historic parks survey and a full management plan, so it could be at least six months before there are more concrete plans.

 

Mr Barnes admitted that the Council had not wanted the 'concept' in the public arena at this stage. However the anti-school campaign is wasting no time in marshalling troops.

 

You can view the Council's concept drawings by clicking on the image.

 

 


 

 

FRANK FARMER HAS WRITTEN A RESPONSE TO THE MEETING ABOUT 'GROVELANDS PARK IMPROVEMENT PROPOSALS'

 

Gary Barnes, Assistant Director Regeneration, Leisure and Libraries faced a crowded, and sometimes hostile meeting of residents as he presented outline proposals by Enfield Council to build a new two-form entry primary school within Grovelands Park and the Priory Hospital grounds and other developments that would include current sporting facilities. It was clear from the outset that many of those present were angry because they had not received the invitation letter when they live close to the affected areas and had only heard that it was taking place by word-of-mouth. Of those who did receive the letter, there were complaints that many were at work at four o'clock in the afternoon and that the meeting should have been held at a more appropriate time. Mr. Barnes did not help his case by being ill-prepared and by not creating a proper structure which would have allowed a formal presentation followed by questions. In fact people were interrupting him from the start and unfortunately many of the questions and answers were missed.

 

Mr. Barnes was pressed on the rumour that houses were likely to be built in the grounds. He strenuously denied this and added that until English Heritage had given their approval, nothing could be progressed because the land was designated a "2-star park" designed by Repton and Morson – one of only five such parks in the country – and that English Heritage would not give its approval until it had seen an historic parks survey and a full management plan. He admitted to having been surprised that English Heritage had not dismissed the proposals 'out of hand' but acknowledged that there would be at least six month's work before such plans could be ready for submission.

 

Aerial pictures of the site were on view but the majority of the audience could not see them, so Mr. Barnes' comments regarding location were largely lost on the audience. Clearly, a properly thought-out presentation would have provided for wide-screen slides to be shown to allow people at the meeting to follow the points he was making regarding the likely positioning of new buildings and access to them. It was unfortunate that the meeting lacked structure because there were people present who are directly affected by the lack of school places in a borough whose population continues to increase. Others, without school-age children acknowledged that there is a need for more school places but questioned the suitability of the site. It was pointed out that Southgate College itself was likely to dispose of that part of its site which occupies some of the old Minchenden School land – ironically closed some years ago because of the lack of demand for places. Mr. Barnes could not discuss that idea. Neither was he able to tell the meeting at what stage the negotiations have reached with Thames Water or what the likely cost of that land would be. He did say, however, that the proposed school would be 'built underground' – something that caused a certain amount of puzzlement among the audience. He also said that any such school would have to be built under the Government's 'Free School' programme but he didn't explain the ramifications of such an idea.

 

Many people expressed their concern that the proposed school would be adjacent to the Priory Hospital which provides in-patient care for people with drug and alcohol problems. Mr. Barnes assured the meeting that all schools have security systems in place but one regular user of the park insisted that patients did enter the park and had been known to insult members of the public and cause a nuisance. Others questioned access, a possible new road leading into the grounds and likely increased traffic problems. Mr. Barnes said that a traffic survey and report could not be undertaken until the main plans were approved.

 

All in all, this was an unsatisfactory meeting. It did little to resolve genuine concerns of local residents and even parents of likely pupils at the proposed new school were unclear as to the likelihood of it ever being opened. But Mr. Barnes and his colleagues from Enfield Council would have been left in no doubt that they have a hard task ahead of them to convince the majority of local residents that this is a workable and acceptable idea. We will await further developments and various 'action groups' look ready to respond, so it will be interesting. Certainly the Council should now be aware that they cannot ignore seriously held concern among the very people who pay their wages and elect them!

 

 Frank Farmer 19.7.13

On Thursday July 18th, afternoon, Gary Barnes, the Council's 'School Scout' (Assistant Director Regeneration, Leisure and Libraries) addressed a meeting of a hundred plus people, to present an outline plan to build a new two form entry primary school in the South West corner of Grovelands Park.

Comments (8)

  • Mike C

    Mike C

    22 July 2013 at 09:01 |
    I can't believe there isn't somewhere else this school could be built, and this part of the park restored, it should never have been allowed to have become a tip

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  • Wendy Boast

    Wendy Boast

    22 July 2013 at 10:03 |
    I appreciate the need for primary school places but there must be other 'brown field' sites that can be considered or the expansion of other local primary schools such as Walker. I am opposed to building on 'green' land and would ideally like to see the land opened up to park users and perhaps a 'wildlife' area retained.

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  • Paul F

    Paul F

    25 July 2013 at 10:52 |
    I am all for education being a teacher myself for 18 years. I am also keen to preserve what little green space we have left for future generations. The answer is not to build on rare green land. The area has recently been described as a waste land by people, who by their own admittance, have never seen the area. If you look on Google Earth the Water Board land is in fact a mix of grassland and woods. It is the "square" to the right of the red ellipse above. This wildlife haven will be ruined if the development goes ahead. I have it on good authority that there are reptiles, deer, bats, birds and many species of insects not usually seen in this area.

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    • Tim

      Tim

      28 July 2013 at 21:25 |
      I would like to know who the good authority is that has carried out a wildlife survey? Especially when the land is hard to access.

      I would also like to know how, reptiles, deer, bats, birds and "species of insects not usually seen in this area" will be damaged (if they actually exist) if the school is not built on the Thames water land that you are referring to, but it is build on the old rugby pitch? (As was detailed on one of the concept drawings).

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  • Tim

    Tim

    28 July 2013 at 21:02 |
    Everyone says they understand the need for schools.... but build them somewhere else. Where else can they be built?

    The school would be for children from 5 years upwards. Where can you build a school to which a 5 year old child can walk to easily?

    The council will have to also expand Walker, and build another school, as well as this proposed school to meet the local demands in the next 5 years. All other primary schools in the local area are full and on very constrained sites.

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  • Wendy Boast

    Wendy Boast

    14 August 2013 at 09:35 |
    How about building a school on the old Minchenden site opposite Southgate College? That was raised in the meeting but no satisfactory answer given. Or why can't the school be built on the land in the park that is already being allowed to go to waste where the old tennis courts and old rugby club building site is? Why hasn't that been considered? We haven't been given any other options by the Council other than building on what is essentially a wildlife meadow in Metropolitan Open Land that used to be part of the park before being sold off. The Education Officer at the meeting didn't even bring any statistics with her about the actual need for primary school places, where this need is and what the catchment areas are of other local primary schools. Looking online it appears that primary schools such as Highfields actually have a large catchment area covering the locations being discussed in the meeting. The meeting was set up in such a hurry and was so poorly organised and chaired that it has really upset locals living around the park. Most of us knew absolutely nothing about it until a letter arrived a week before and even then not all the residents who live locally received a letter. The meeting was set at a time when many people were at work or ironically collecting their children from school. It certainly didn't do anything to negate locals fears that something was afoot. This kind of behaviour by the Council makes people suspicious of their alternative goals (e.g. building housing alongside a school and possible future plans for a new secondary school). We need a fair and open debate about this and need to be given all the information about actual school places, where they are needed and what options are being considered by the Council. I'm a mum of three kids so I do appreciate the need for schools, but I also appreciate the need for green space because once we start building on 'green land' there really is no precedent to stop building anywhere.

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  • Elisha Lawton

    Elisha Lawton

    13 September 2013 at 22:02 |
    Thanks for keeping us posted on Enfield Council's
    plans to build a school in Grovelands Park

    reply

  • Jon

    Jon

    18 September 2013 at 19:05 |
    to have your children schooled in an lovely green area, with the school sympathetically integrated into the natural environment is surely an ideal for many parents, and perhaps why many move out of London to the country side ... when the opportunity arises in London we should embrace it

    reply

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