Why is there such controversy over the Judith Kerr school site?

Parents in Herne Hill have launched a petition urging planners to protect a playing field at Judith Kerr Primary School (JKPS), 62-68 Half Moon Lane from being sold off for development by the Dulwich Estate.  The Dulwich Estate has recently announced it would like to build sheltered housing for older residents on the site.

State school JKPS leases its buildings and grounds from The Dulwich Estate, an education charity that counts Dulwich College, Alleyn’s and James Allen’s Girls’ School among its beneficiaries. However, not all the land at the site is leased by the school and the lease terms specify that the green space not leased by the school can be sold and developed into residential housing at any time, subject to planning permission from Southwark Council.

James Roberts, a spokesman for the parents’ Green Space Campaign, said the group was urging the council to change the status of the field to “Open Space” in order to protect it.

The New Southwark Plan preferred option is to designate JKPS green space to ‘Other Open Space’. The petition asked respondees to register support to ensure the designation of ‘Other Open Space’ is approved.    Southwark Council are not yet in a position to say what the final outcome is likely to be as the consultation has just closed.

In the meantime, the Dulwich Estate has said it has submitted representations to the council concerning the land at 62-68 Half Moon Lane for possible use as subsidised sheltered housing for elderly people.  It also plans a public consultation exercise.   See The Dulwich Estate Statement about the Almshouses

What are the issues with the lease?

Further background (courtesy of the Dulwich Estate June 2015):

“….The establishment of a school in this location was not under the control of nor encouraged by the Estate.

The CfBT Schools Trust took an assignment of the building lease from King’s College London in the clear knowledge that the remaining term of the lease was relatively short. The Estate was approached with a view to securing a longer tenure in order that the School could obtain the substantial funding required to convert the premises for use as a school from the Education Funding Agency.

The agreement between CfBT Schools Trust and the Estate was reached in order to accommodate the Trust’s aim of securing the future of the School in the longer term. The Trust was well aware that in consideration for this, the area of the site to be occupied by the School going forward would not be the whole site. The Trust chose to establish a school in this location on the basis of this agreement, i.e. that the Estate would take back part of the original site…”

The lease from The Dulwich Estate stipulates that JKPS is not allowed to object to planning permission.  Therefore the JKPS Green Space Campaign was established to prevent the school from losing the playing field on behalf of the school, its children and the local community. The lease further restricts the school, CfBT and the school’s governing body from opposing the planning application(s).

 

 

Published: 26 Feb 2016

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