A proposal to build a new school at Anchorage Point Industrial Estate in Charlton is no longer proceeding after the Department for Education pulled out of the scheme.
A subsequent revaluation of school places in 2021 has been the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities pull the plug.
A report before Greenwich Council’s Cabinet states:
“On 21st January 2021, Cabinet approved the disposal of Anchorage Point Industrial Estate in order for a new primary school to be constructed.
The purpose of this report is to update the Cabinet on the DfE’s decision not to proceed with planning permission, its offer to buy the Site and fund the construction of a new primary school, and seek Cabinet’s approval to terminate the Sale Agreement.”
Greenwich will see the return of a £775,000 deposit.
The report also states:
“The DfE has since undertaken a review of all projects within its Free School Programme and, based on Royal Greenwich’s 2021 School Capacity Data, has determined that for the immediate future there is no justification for additional primary places in the borough.
The DfE has therefore concluded that the cost can no longer be justified and has agreed with the academy sponsor that the application for the new free school in the borough is withdrawn. As such, the DfE has informed the Council that it intends to withdraw from the Sale Agreement relating to the proposed acquisition of the Site.”
One potential cause is the slow build out rate of plots in the area. Charlton Riverside has yet to see a single home built out of a potential 8,000.
Morris Walk estate redevelopment has also taken some time to eek through the planning process and demolition, with approval finally given last year that sees a substantial uplift in total homes compared to previous numbers.
Greenwich Peninsula has also seen slow movement especially from developer Knight Dragon, though that is finally changing as Plot 19.05 is now beginning and towers nearby due to commence.
So quite a bit has changed since the DfE’s January 2021 reappraisal, with some long-stalled areas finally progressing.
The door is being left open for future education provision.
The report states: “The DfE’s decision and the latest review of projected demand for school places indicates that the Council can still meet demand for primary places at borough level over the next five years.”
It also mentions adding capacity to schools on the Peninsula. If that happens surely walking links from new homes at Woolwich Dockyard and Charlton would be improved?
Well, we’ve thought that before and Greenwich Planning and Highways department have been steadfast in refusing to fund.
Extensive barriers requiring sizable diversions on foot, a lack of crossings and vehicle dominance remain.
The report continues:
“At the local place planning area for Anchorage Point, the Council still anticipates that there will be a rise in the demand for primary places in this area as thousands of new homes are built.
When this demand becomes an actual localised pressure on places is very much dependant on the pace of construction and the timeline for when new homes become occupied.
The demand for school places remains under constant review. Negotiations on the Peninsula masterplan also provides an avenue for additional primary provision as more new homes are completed and therefore provides another potential solution to meeting demand for school places in the area over the longer term.”
Greenwich Council have lost out from government actions. The report highlights “The Council has incurred legal and professional costs, and losses of rent from third party occupiers, as a result of the decision to dispose of the Site.
The DfE has paid £10,000 towards the Council’s legal costs but is not contractually required to make any further payments.”