Dalston school’s flats building plan to fund primary places rejected

Holly Trinity Primary School

Holly Trinity Primary School - Credit: Archant

Plans to demolish and rebuild Holy Trinity Primary School in Beechwood Road, Dalston, with seven storeys of flats above it to double its intake of pupils have been rejected.

Holly Trinity Primary School

Holly Trinity Primary School - Credit: Archant

Objectors living near Holy Trinity Church of England primary school in Beechwood Road, Dalston, complained that the proposals breached the council’s action plan for the area in terms of height, size and that the 10-storey building would block out their sunlight.

But at a council planning meeting on June 5, a spokesman for the applicant, the Learning Trust, said the expansion from one to two-form entry, which would eventually bring the school population up to 460, would be crucial for providing places in London - which is soon predicted to suffer a serious shortage of state school places.

The expansion was to be funded by 101 flats above the three-storey school with rooftop playground, with any profit fund future shortfalls in primary school places.

Chair of the planning committee, Cllr Vincent Stops, expressed concern over the school’s design regarding the number of flats above the school and the fact that 58 per cent of them were single aspect units.

“That is more than I think we’ve ever had before, is that a problem in terms of the design and living standards,” he said.

He asked the council planning officer whether the subtotal of all the design issues would normally warrant a failure if it weren’t for the London Plan’s strategic requirement for schools.

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“On balance, yes if there wasn’t the educational facility, it is essentially a compromised scheme,” she replied.

“The issue for us is the London Plan and there is a need, and certainly there will be more of a requirement by 2015, and the wording is that it outweighs in this circumstance the local planning issues.”

Headteacher Yvonne Barnet said the outstanding education the school currently provides is currently “achieved in an environment that is far from outstanding”.

“Our children and families have watched first class properties coming up around them as out of old temporary classrooms, they very much feel it is their turn to enjoy purpose built classrooms in an outstanding building,” she said.

Although Cllr Stops said he would not rule out a mixed use development on the site, he would expect it to be alongside other funding streams traditionally used over the years to pay for educational facilities.

“We hardly ever seen a design rejected by our design officers, and we are being told we need to balance it against the need for a school,” he said.

“I think we have been trying to persuade the people of Dalston we respect the area action plan.

“Balancing off saying this is a school and this trumps everything, I don’t think it trumps the 58 per cent single aspect, the slab, the corridor of mass and height.”

Three councillors voted for the development while six voted against.