We held a well-attended meeting of local residents (from Osterley and Isleworth) with Ruth Cadbury MP in the Wycombe House cricket pavilion on Wednesday 12th August.
A petition of over 1000 signatures from TW7 residents, opposed the proposal to build the Nishkam school on the white Lodge/ Conquest Club site was presented to Ruth Cadbury. It was pointed out to Ruth that the Nishkam School Trust (NST) was claiming 80% support, but NST had resolutely declined to provide a post code analysis of their supporters.
Balvinder Dhillon provided an update on the campaign. An article in the Hounslow Chronicle the NST has finally admitted that their planning application is fundamentally flawed and that they have failed to consult local residents. They belatedly recognized that Keep Osterley Green’s objections are strong. This has now been confirmed by Transport for London (TfL) who have found the NST traffic analysis to be deficient. If Hounslow Council were to apply the same rigour they will conclude that this application is of exceptionally poor quality.
Flawed documentation. The documents comprising the application, such as the Traffic Assessment, Sequential Test, Planning Statement etc., are deeply flawed because they attempt to justify a decision already made even when the facts were against it. The documents are inaccurate, use data and criteria that are inappropriate, omit statutory information, make assumptions that cannot be substantiated and generally are based on the assumption that the application is a done deal. It isn’t. We has shown that the Sequential site selection as the worst document and believe that it invalidates the credibility and the basis of the whole planning application. Indeed, we are surprised that the EFA has supported NST in this committing substantial public funds to purchase the site. Council planners must revisit the site assessment. We believe there are at least five suitable alternative sites available that would better serve Hounslow pupils.
Selective engagement with residents is not consultation. NST claims it has listened to residents’ concerns over two years and in response decided to amend the application – this is incorrect. The have largely worked in the shadows. They started this process in 2012 and it was only local residents applied pressure via their local MP in 2015 did NST come clean and hastily arrange a public exhibition inviting small number of residents invited. In contrast, a large number of parents were brought in from Hounslow and Southall and asked to fill-in feedback questionnaires. It should also be noted that the EFA has already admitted in writing that the choice to build on the Metropolitan Open Land comprising the White Lodge/Conquest Club site in Syon Lane was made before the sequential analysis was effected.
Profound impact of traffic ignored. The NST planning application states ”the effect of traffic from the school development proposals has been robustly analysed taking into account committed development and consequently the residual cumulative impacts of development are not severe”. This is nonsense and a complete misrepresentation. Keep Osterley Green has made a detailed analysis of the NST traffic assessment, a summary of which you can read here.
The NST revised assessment creates more problems than it solves and it does not provide a response to questions about the total impact of the school when at full capacity with 1440. (To see the specific points click here).
Sustainability is key all planning at Government, GLA and local level. According to Hounslow Local Plan policy C12:
We will expect development proposals to demonstrate that a new or expanded education facility is accessible by a choice of sustainable modes of travel in accordance with the type of facility being proposed and that car parking provision is in accordance with the standards set out in the London Plan.
Ruth Cadbury took questions and points (Q/P) from the floor. It was a useful session which included the following.
Q/P. As an ethos school only a small number of places will be taken from children in our borough
A. ethos schools by definition must draw upon a much broader area because typically many parents would rather send their children to an non-ethos school. This would also explain the location chosen so as to be available to children to the London borough of Ealing and beyond.
Q/P. What can you do specifically to help us?
A. I will and must remain impartial. I can, however, listen to your concerns and provide objective guidance and help you understand the planning process.
Q/P. The planners seem to be passing on highlights of our conversation with them to NST / EFA….
A. The planners must remain impartial, not bow to any political pressures and treat all parties in a level manner. They are not expected to act as proactive “go-betweens”.
Q/P. We have heard that the HIP school application for the Grasshoppers site is imminent and Wyke Green Golf Club is in discussions to sell land for a school…
A. This is alarming so I would suggest the big-picture is painted to provide an overall context for your members and more broadly as the collective impact must be considered.
Q/P. Why did the Floreat School not succeed on the Brent Lea recreation park site?
A. It seems that a combination of strong public opposition and common sense prevailed. They have found an alternative site and it seems to be an analogue of your situation in so much that you have also found alternative.
A collection was taken and £200 was gratefully received.