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'Disgraceful': Hackney New School under fire for replacing kids' bike racks with car parking spaces

PUBLISHED: 15:58 06 November 2019 | UPDATED: 20:57 07 November 2019

The car parking spaces outside the school. Picture: @Hackneycyclist

The car parking spaces outside the school. Picture: @Hackneycyclist

Archant

Hackney New School has come under fire from the council's environment chief for breaching planning permission to replace a row of tots' bike stands with three car parking spaces.

The spaces are set on the pavement alongside the school building, parallel to road parking spaces outside the secondary free school in Downham Road, Haggerston.

Vowing to take the matter up immediately, Cllr Jon Burke said: "This is pretty disgraceful and goes against everything the council is trying to achieve on air quality and active travel.

"It's also exactly the kind of problem that occurs when local authorities don't run schools."

Not long after he discovered the move breached the school's planning permission, and announced the parking spaces must be removed.

The old bike parking outside the school. Picture: @HackneycyclistThe old bike parking outside the school. Picture: @Hackneycyclist

Condition 20 of the planning permission states that one disabled car parking space could be retained permanently, but that "ther than the marked space, no part of the site shall be used for car parking purposes".

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The Gazette first noticed cars parking on the pavement outside the school in 2018, when building contractors working on the primary school development began parking there.

HNS was given the former fire station site by the Department for Education and the Benyon Estate is now working on a development to build 89 flats alongside the primary school.

HNS head teacher Charlotte Whelan said school staff were not allowed to park in the spaces, and could not offer any explanation as to why the parking spaces were introduced because they were implemented by the school's previous administration.

"We have been made aware that the current arrangement, put in place by the previous administration, may be in breach of our planning condition," she said.

"We will work with the council to ensure any issues are quickly rectified. A sign has also been put up to discourage unauthorised motorists."

She said the school has over 100 cycle racks available to students which are close to full most school days.

"Our students are encouraged to make health conscious lifestyle choices including cycling or walking to school," she said. "We are also in the process of applying for our health school award."

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