Murky Depths

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Woolwich

New application for school beside Woolwich Town Hall

Courtesy @Kleon. Flats beside Town Hall

Developers are back with another application to install a school on the ground floor of a new block of flats beside Woolwich Town Hall.

An initial plan was recommended for refusal by planners before lockdown begun. I covered those plans back in December last year.

New entrance to be constructed if approved

One reason for rejection was: “In the absence of any D1 details relating to pupil numbers and outdoor space the proposal fails to demonstrate that it does not negatively impacts the adjoining highways in terms of pickups and drop offs and how the quality of education provision would be acceptable and compliant to the Education guidance and standards”.

A letter in relation to the prior application was uploaded on 29th April 2020 stating:

“By day the school will operate as an alternative provision (AP) facility, offering special educational services to students with a higher degree of social, emotional and behavioural needs and who have been excluded from mainstream education”.

There would no playground at the site. The application states:

“We recognise the lack of outdoor space at our premises and as such have designed teaching timetables to incorporate physical education classes with more-than sufficient time to transport students to and from nearby parks (Barrack Field & Woolwich Common are two locations that we are considering).”

“It is also intended that the double-height and abundant canteen space will serve
both as a break area for students and an area for light exercise during breaks with table-tennis and foosball tables.”

Yes, table football.

The developer responds to the previous recommended rejection with:

“The addition of D1 would provide a more versatile offer to the market
with the aim of attracting a viable use for the ground floor. As the specific user under D1 is not known, any details required can be appropriately conditioned for approval prior to that use commencing.”

However, back in December I noted Sumus are listed on plans as the group who will operate the school. They’ve since written to Greenwich Council as noted above.

They have a website presenting information as though permission has already been granted. The company is registered in Stockton on Tees with some of those behind the company having a long list of company directorships including Paradigm land.

Paradigm land were developers behind the new-build flats on this site. The Paradigm land website states in regards to one of it’s developments in Bromley:

“We purchased this site as a conversion opportunity. Within six months we’d sold it on with planning permission without even donning our steel-toe-caps.”

Courtesy @Kleon

Samus have added additional pages to their website since and still portray themselves as opening despite no planning approval. One page on the website specifically lists this location of Woolwich with a map. They claim they are “opening throughout London” despite no links to any other site on the website – let alone one with approval.

The application states: “We wish to point out an error in the officer’s report which refers to the education use having been commenced. This is not correct and the premises have not yet been leased to the education provider.”

The new Design and Access statement again ignores high rise flats recently built over the road.

New Woolwich flats.

The D&A Statement also states they could not let commercial space due to the “isolated” nature of the site, which overlooks hundreds of new flats directly opposite plus council offices.

A “tertiary” location is also given as a reason gyms could not operate.

However in the Planning Statement the application states:

“There are a number of shops and public amenities located within close proximity to the property.

The site is surrounded by a number of shops, cafes and restaurants as it is located within the Town Centre of Woolwich.”

They state they did not use advertising boards on boarded up windows as it was not useful to do so.

On the one hand there’s a document stating the location is too remote, then another document stating as a town centre location approval should be given for the current application.

The application to change to D1 use would also permit use for “medical and health services, as a nursery, to display art, providing education, as a library, public hall or for public religious worship.”

Click here to view and comment on plans.

10 Comments

  1. Geoff

    Surely this will never be a school.

    It’s just a way to get D1 use. A church is most likely. That or the next step is conversion to flats.

  2. Graham

    I cannot see it being used as a Medical Centre as no place for doctors cars to park. Also there was talk of knocking down the multi storey car park by Sainsburys on nearby Calderwood Street and turning to in to a flats and a new larger Sainsburys Store,

    Aithough the school would be served by several bus routes on Wellington Street and in and around Woolwich Town Centre.

  3. Chris L

    Fitting out seems to be in progress.

    You would think that being opposite the Civic Centre the Council might have spotted this.

  4. Sim

    To be fair that looks quite nice! And probably will benefit a lot of locals.

  5. Ryan

    They’ve already registered with Ofsted too…

    https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/provider/16/2577414

  6. Graham

    A school would be preferable to yet another church which really is not needed in the area,

    Also it may allow the pupils attending to have more one to one attention and support which is not always achievable in larger schools.

  7. CDT

    Yes especially as some of the pupils may have behavioral issues which could have resulted in them being excluded from their previous school.

    Agree a school would be preferable to a another church.

    I thought Greenwich Council were going to stop more churches opening in shops offices warehouses etc after refusing an application for a new church in Eltham due to parking issues and noise etc.

    To me churches should be on consecrated ground.

  8. James Sharp

    Looking at the link, it’s already been fitted out as a school it seems and it’s filling a vacant building with something that is beneficial to the community.

    Seems like there is some sort of perverse smear campaign going on here in the article. What actually is the problem?

    • fromthemurkydepths

      No smear campaign to highlight a planned school without any outside playing facilities, and why is work been undertaken without approval? Why is the application so contradictory?

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