Hackney residents want rethink on school merger

Residents are worried about plans to nearly double the intake of a Stoke Newington school

Plans to merge two special schools in Hackney into one building at a cost of �15.7 million have received a frosty reception from residents close to the proposed site.

The Horizon school building in Wordsworth Road, Stoke Newington, a secondary school for children with autism and learning difficulties, is to be demolished and a new school built in its place to incorporate pupils from Downsview Primary School in Downs Road, which will become a pupil referral unit.

It means pupil numbers will increase from 84 to 150 to include children as young as two, with a reduction in outdoor playing space to accommodate the new school building, which is being funded by the Building Schools for the Future programme.

Residents of Prince George and Palatine Roads, which border Horizon, voiced their displeasure at a heated public meeting at the school on September 9 because they believe the proposed design is too big for the site and will cause traffic and parking problems.

“The school board probably thinks we’re against the school but we’re not,” said Matthew McStravick, of Prince George Road.

“We realise there is a need for expansion but there’s no need for additional disruption.”

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Under the plans, a route through the school site will run behind Prince George Road to allow buses to drop pupils off inside the premises, with a new exit onto Prince George Road.

“There are already six buses going to the school, there will be double that and they will sit behind our houses for at least 20 minutes at a time,” added Mr McStravick,

James McQuat, 40, of Prince George Road, said: “I’m not particularly confident that I’ll be consulted from now on.

“We just want to be listened to.”

Ian Sinclair, the project director for Hackney Council, backed the expansion at the meeting. He said the Horizon building could not accommodate the school’s current students.

Building work is scheduled to start next summer.