Campaigners reject proposal for Lea Bridge Road free schools due to traffic fears

Designs for two proposed schools in Lea Bridge Road. Photo by Lion Academy Trust

Designs for two proposed schools in Lea Bridge Road. Photo by Lion Academy Trust - Credit: Archant

Plans for two new free schools have been met with opposition from Hackney Council and a campaign group.

Despite the proposal for the 1,400-place secondary school being built in Waltham Forest, on the site of the former Thames Water depot in Lea Bridge Road, the application was brought before Hackney planners due to its “significant cross-border impact”.

As well as the three-storey secondary school, run by the Lions Trust Academy, the blueprint includes a REAch2 Academy-run two-storey primary school for 420 students and a 26-place nursery for three-year-olds.

The trusts behind the scheme say the plans will meet an “identified need” for new primary and secondary school places across both boroughs.

The council objected to the plans due to the negative impact it would have on traffic in an area that is already congested at peak times between the Lea Bridge Road roundabout in Hackney and the proposed site, which is opposite the Lee Valley Ice Centre.

Members of Save Lea Marshes, a group that campaigns to ensure the Lower Lea Valley marshes – including Hackney Marshes – remain open and green, have also opposed the scheme.

A group spokesman said: “Construction will increase the amount of traffic congestion and air pollution on Lea Bridge Road, which is already busy.”

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According to the plans, work is expected to run between this November and September 2019, with the most intense period of traffic from HGV construction vehicles expected to be in January 2018, when there will be 29 two-way HGV trips per day.

In terms of the school’s reach, the catchment area for the primary school would extend as far west as Stoke Newington, with the secondary school catchment area covering the whole of Hackney.

“The traffic taking children, teachers and support staff to and from the school will also increase pollution and the volume of traffic on a road that is already gridlocked at peak times,” a spokesman added.

In response to the traffic concerns, a spokesman for the trusts said: “The schools will benefit from the excellent bus, cycling and pedestrian routes along Lea Bridge Road. We urge local people to back these schools.

“There has been an extensive site search for these schools and it is extremely rare in London to have a location that can provide such large outdoor playing fields and sports facilities for the children, which will also be available to the community outside school hours.

“Furthermore the two schools will be run by academy trusts that each already operate local schools rated by Ofsted as ‘outstanding’.”

The school was meant to open this next month, but the application was rejected by Waltham Forest Council at the pre-planning stage last year after councillors opposed it. Hackney Council is sending objections to Waltham Forest this week.