Greenwich planners recommend Woolwich school approval despite no play area

Greenwich Council planners are recommending councillors approve plans next week for a school in Woolwich with no outside play area.

Plans for the site beside Woolwich Town Hall were previously rejected, with the police objection to the site being used as a school due to an “absence of a secure boundary around the perimeter of the site”.

The applicant appealed and won in March 2021. The school will sit below flats in what was planned to be commercial space.

Former cinema and club on site

Curiously, this page on the Government website lists the school as having opened last November before gaining permission.

Sumus’ website was giving the impression it was approved and ready to open long before it gained approval.

Play space

Pupils will need to travel to nearby parks for outdoor play time at the Sumus school, with the application from 2020 stating:

“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.”

Despite the constrained site, it has been deemed acceptable by both the Council’s Education Department, the DfE and Ofsted.

No adverts for commercial space on building exterior in 2019 after completion

It appears the plan has always been to install a school on this site. Many directors behind the group set up to run the school are also on the board of Paradigm who developed the housing block.

The application stated that this town centre location could not be used as commercial space due to the “isolated” nature of the site.

I mean, it’s all fields around here.

Rural idyll prevented commercial usage and ensured low footfall according to applicant

It should be noted that while the developer won their appeal, no costs were awarded as both Greenwich Council and the applicant were judged to have acted poorly.

The Planning Inspector stated in regards to information in the application and arguments over lack of detail: “this situation was compounded by the Council in not accepting the additional information supplied. It was considered that both parties acted unreasonably and therefore no costs were awarded”.

The school will operate from 6:45am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 12pm on Saturdays. The plan is 60 students and “would be an alternative provision to mainstream education offer for children 7 to 18 years of age who may need support”.

The Met still object citing:

  • Building environs
  • Site location
  • Existing youth violence within area
  • Staffed route from public transport only proposed part of the day
  • Ofsted report does not consider location of school and how pupils would be protected outside the site, particularly after hours



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I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

    5 thoughts on “Greenwich planners recommend Woolwich school approval despite no play area

    • Woolwich Common has been left wild this year and therefore unsuitable for play.

      The barrack field is reserved for organised sport.

      Both remain MOD property.

    • Due to the opening hours of this school I think it would safer if the pupils were transported to and from the school by school buses allowing them to travel to and from the school safely. As the pupils will need exxtra support and be vulnerable.

      I am guessing there will be a normal school day with extra activirties outside of the main school day during the week and on Saturday mornings.

    • They’ll be able to walk past the spot where Lee Rigby was murdered on their way to/from their playtimes.

    • Very bizarre place to stick a school in Woolwich. Wouldn’t it be better suited over in Royal Arsenal? Would make more sense for retail or housing purposes.


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