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Fate of Hackney New School to be decided at planning committee

PUBLISHED: 14:58 05 September 2013 | UPDATED: 16:45 05 September 2013

The proposed plans for Hackney New School as seen from Kingsland Road

The proposed plans for Hackney New School as seen from Kingsland Road

Archant

The first cohort of 100 children to attend Hackney New School (HNS) start today in the educational charity Hackney Pirates' old refurbished headquarters in Downham Road.

The proposed plans for Hackney New School as seen from the Kingsland BasinThe proposed plans for Hackney New School as seen from the Kingsland Basin

A bid to build a six-storey secondary school in Haggerston will be decided on Monday.

The first 100 children to attend Hackney New School (HNS) start today in the educational charity Hackney Pirates’ old refurbished headquarters in Downham Road.

The building will accommodate the school’s first two year groups, while the former Travis Perkins’ building yard – where food fair Street Feast was operating this summer – is developed to house the entire school, of 700 pupils.

If the proposals get the go-ahead, the L-shaped parcel of land will see a six-storey building facing Kingsland Basin and a five-storey building backing on to Kingsland Road.

The council’s planning officers are recommending the school is given approval, and believe the proposal is an acceptable design for the conservation area.

But the council has received 93 letters of objection compared to 20 supporting the scheme.

Concerns raised include the site being overcrowded, the design negatively impacting the conservation area and decreasing the value of properties, light being blocked out of homes, and noise and disturbance.

De Beauvoir councillors Tom Eburt and Robert Chapman have issued a statement on their website saying: “Whilst we as councillors have no objection in principle to a school being built on the site, we have significant concerns about the size and scale of the proposed development, particularly the design of the Kingsland Road frontage and its relationship to the buildings that would immediately neighbour it to either side.”

HNS director, Phillippa De’Ath, said the school would become a community hub.

“It is designed efficiently and to fit our needs – for music, art, personalised learning, performance and academic focus – as well as wider responsibilities towards the community,” she said.

“We want people to know that this is a public institution, not just another block of flats, without it being a massive, over-designed construction.”

The music-specialist school is one of the first three free schools to open in Hackney this month.

The ethos behind the school is to encourage children to think for themselves.

The school has attracted interest because of its long day, running from 8am to 6pm, but pupils will get all “homework” completed at school.

Free schools were a centre piece of the Conservatives’ election manifesto - the idea of local people setting up schools fitting in with its Big Society agenda.

The Secretary of State for Education gave the school the go-ahead last year to meet demand for school places in the borough.

Similar to academies, free schools are semi-independent and outside of local authority control, funded directly by Westminster, with the freedom to vary the school day, terms, the curriculum and teachers’ pay and conditions.

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