A £31m plan to permanently expand seven primary schools and create 1,680 extra school places has been approved.

Cabinet members agreed on Monday to push forward with plans to double the size of Hillcross, Merton Abbey, Pelham, Poplar, St Mary’s Roman Catholic and Cranmer primary schools, while Singlegate primary is to triple in size.

In a separate application, the council is also planning to create an additional form of entry at Dundonald Primary School in Wimbledon, doubling its capacity.

Building work, subject to planning permission, will be carried out over a two year period with the first classrooms expected to be completed at Singlegate in June 2014, and the last at Pelham in March 2015.

Birth rates in Merton have risen by 39 per cent in the last eight years fuelling an increased demand for primary school places.

The project will add eight forms of entry to Merton’s primary education provision creating 1,680 extra school places over the next seven years.

Councillor Stephen Alambritis, leader of Merton Council, said: “We think that’s the best way forward to meet demand.

“We have a duty to provide school places and we think the way that we are doing it is spot on.”

Conservative councillors had called for an alternative plan to build an entirely new school to cope with the demand for school places.

James Holmes, shadow cabinet member for education, said: “We don’t oppose any of these expansions. They are necessary, but our plan was for a brand new school.

“If the population continues to grow there is no room for further expansion and a new school may well still be needed in the future.”

Expenditure for the capital project, which has been estimated at £31.1m, will be spread across three years.

Plans are also under way for a new free school set up by Chapel St Community Schools Trust based in Crown Lane, Morden to be created, though no site has been identified.

The school is expected to welcome 60 reception year pupils when it opens in 2014 with a further 420 primary school places set to be created over the next seven years for children in the Merton and Kingston area.


  • Hillcross, Poplar and Cranmer will each go from a two to three form entry system.
  • Capacity at each school will rise from 420 to 630.
  • Merton Abbey, St Mary’s Roman Catholic, and Pelham Primary will go from a one to two form entry system. Capacity at each school will double to 420. 
  • Singlegate Primary will see the biggest increase and will go from a one to three form entry system. Capacity will be tripled to 630 pupils.
  • Contracts for Hillcross, Merton Abbey, Poplar, Pelham, St Mary's and Singlegate have been awarded to Mansell while work at Cranmer will be carried out by Willmott Dixon.