Save Ealing's Green Spaces - Say NO to Durston House School expansion

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Maggie Wallace
Maggie Wallace signed this petition

We need your help to save Ealing's Green Spaces. 

This petition has been set up by Ealing residents to object to Durston House Independent Preparatory School's expansion plans on Castlebar Playing fields.

We welcome reasonable development in appropriate places. We strongly object, however, to development on green spaces, which once lost they can never be replaced.

These proposals would permanently destroy one of one of the only areas of Community Green Open Space in Ealing Broadway ward, resulting in massive harm to our community. 

DURSTON HOUSE SCHOOL PROPOSALS

Durston House School are proposing to consolidate their three existing school sites into one 3-storey school complex on Castlebar Playing Field, increasing their capacity to accommodate 540 pupils - a 20% increase.

The proposals include plans for an artificial sports surface and floodlights and Durston House have indicated that this, and other facilities on site will be used for ancillary purposes outside of school hours, including evenings and weekends.

To pay for the new school complex, the existing school sites will be converted into 17 flats, however the school are claiming that they are unable to provide affordable housing on viability grounds.

Durston House pupils will transport pupils daily to Swyncombe Playing Fields in Hounslow for sporting activities and PE lessons that currently take place at Castlebar Playing Field.

We object to these proposals for the following reasons: 

PERMANENT LOSS of Community Open Green Space and playing fields

Removal of grass playing fields used for a variety of sporting activities by the school, two all-weather tennis and basketball courts will cause massive harm to the environment and wildlife and result in the permanent loss of scarce play and recreation space.

INCREASED traffic, congestion and pollution

The consolidation of Durston House School from their three existing sites into one and the expansion in total school capacity from 432 to 540 (an increase of 20%). 64% of pupils and 27% of staff currently arrive and depart the school by car, this will lead to a massive concentration of traffic onto Carlton Road and nearby narrow residential streets.

The loss of outdoor play space will mean all pupils will need to be bussed daily outside of the Borough for sports activities and PE lessons. Ancillary use of the school complex outside of normal school hours will create additional traffic outside of peak hours.

 Altogether, these proposals will cause a significant increase in traffic congestion, gridlock, CO2 and air pollution, increase the risk to pedestrian safety.

HARM to residents and the local area

The concentration of a modern 3-storey school complex for 540 pupils, including a floodlit artificial playing surface designed for use at evenings and weekends will cause noise and light pollution and a in a loss of privacy and outlook for neighbouring residents. 

The school complex proposed is out of scale and keeping with the area and together with the traffic impacts, will cause massive disruption to this quiet residential neighbourhood and will have a negative impact on the health and well-being of residents.

NO affordable housing

The applicants viability assessment is flawed.

An independent report by submitted to the Council highlights the significant errors in the applicants viability assessment and calculates that the school should be providing c.£4.9 million towards affordable housing.  

In a planning report submitted to the Council in May the GLA confirmed that: “In the absence of an agreed viability position the absence of an affordable housing contribution is unacceptable.”

According to Ealing Council’s own assessment, “the school has not reasonably demonstrated that the scheme is not able to provide maximum reasonable quantum of affordable housing on site or by way of a payment in lieu to provide off-site.”

NO Educational requirement, need or benefit

According to the Independent School Inspectorate, Durston House meets all regulatory requirements and assessments from 2018 make no recommendations that would require modernisation, refurbishment or consolidation of the school’s properties.

As a private independent school, it is impossible to forecast future pupil numbers, as demand is driven by affordability, not location. The financial costs per term exclude the vast majority of Ealing children from benefiting from the education they provide.

The school itself makes no claims that the application is driven by educational requirements. These proposals appear to be a financially motivated and are not required to meet Ealing’s education needs.

AGAINST local and national planning policy

These proposals do not comply with the NPPF, the London Plan or Ealing’s Development Management DPD and Ealing’s playing pitch strategy.

The GLA has confirmed that the current proposals do not comply with the current or proposed London Plan in relation to policies on education, playing fields, open space, community uses, housing, affordable housing, design, environment and transport.

AGAINST Ealing Labour commitments

These proposals run counter to Ealing Labour’s 2018 Manifesto commitments to deliver more affordable housing, champion comprehensive education and protect and enhance Ealing’s green and open spaces and playing fields for future generations. In April 2019, Ealing Council declared a climate emergency. 

Green spaces and playing fields bring health and wellbeing benefits and access to nature improves the quality of life for people in our communities.

We call on Ealing Council to honour these commitments to Ealing residents and oppose unnecessary development on Community Green Open Space.