Council to take final decision on controversial school expansion plan
The controversial saga over plans to build a new primary school may finally reach its climax after Boris Johnson’s office decided not to take the final decision away from the council.
Merton Council is now in a position to have its application to enlarge Dundonald Primary School in Wimbledon decided by councillors in January - eight months after it was registered.
This week the council’s cabinet member for education, Martin Whelton, said the council’s planning committee would now judge the application at the next meeting on January 17.
The council had applied to the Mayor of London’s office to decide whether it should take the decision out of Merton’s hands, because the plans involve building on open public space - contrary to planning regulations.
Coun Whelton said: “We are very committed to this application and we believe it’s a good school and will provide vitally needed school places and enhance sporting facilities within the park.”
He said the council has been asked by the Mayor to make a number of changes to its application, including changing the hours of community use of the Multi-Use Games Area during school hours, installing measures to ensure excess rainfull is drained effectively and increasing the number of cycle parking spaces.
It is understood Sport England have not withdrawn their objection to the council’s scheme, after raising concerns about the loss of a bowling green and public access to tennis courts in Dundonald Recreation Ground.
The Protect Dundonald Rec campaign group have said they will launch a judicial review if the application does win planning approval.
Lorraine Maries, the group’s chairman, said the council should build a new school on another site and not expand on the Rec because it may be cheaper.
She said: “It is both morally wrong and illegal to jeopardize green space for the sake of a questionable financial saving.
“What price can be put upon green space in a heavily populated urban area?”