New generations ‘short changed’ by school plans: two primaries to be bulldozed in Hackney Council’s scheme

An artist's impression of the Tiger Way development, bordering Hackney Downs

An artist's impression of the Tiger Way development, bordering Hackney Downs - Credit: Archant

Parents with youngsters at two primaries are in turmoil since it was announced the schools have been earmarked for demolition.

An artist's impression of the Tiger Way development, bordering Hackney Downs

An artist's impression of the Tiger Way development, bordering Hackney Downs - Credit: Archant

Hackney Council has proposed to relocate and rebuild Benthal and Nightingale Schools, to make room for a new secondary.

Each new build will have flats stacked on top, and funding for the mixed-use schemes will come through income generated by the sale of private flats.

Benthal in Benthal Road will move to a new building on the current Nightingale school site in Rendlesham Road.

Nightingale meanwhile will move into a building in Tiger Way – where Downs View School is standing empty - and expand to two-form entry opening in 2019.

Benthal School

Benthal School - Credit: Archant

Then a new secondary school would then move into the redeveloped Benthal Primary site.

In February the Gazette broke the story of opposition to the massive 13-storey development, in Tiger Way, with a 430-pupil primary school on the ground floor underneath 72 flats.

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No affordable housing or homes for social rent will be built on any of the sites.

The council is adamant this is the only way to address the borough’s urgent need by 2020, for an extra six forms of entry at primary school - or 1,260 places - equivalent to three new schools, as well as 11 forms of entry at secondary school, or 1,650 places- equivalent to two new schools.

But parents have criticized the plans.

Concerns have been raised about uprooting pupils who will be taught in temporary buildings for at least three years, with claims parents are considering removing children from school.

Christine Murray, a Nightingale School parent and editor of the Architectural Review, has launched a petition against the plans, which has garnered over 1,100 signatures. Architect Juliet Quintero whose daughter is in reception at Benthal said: “As a parent and design professional, I am astounded by the short term thinking behind the new plans for Hackney’s primary schools, benefitting luxury development and short-changing the next generation.

“Having looked in detail at the plans I remain wholly unconvinced that these proposals will represent an improved learning environment for the children - instead I believe they represent a compromise in terms of space, light, privacy and room to grow, as they will be limited to any future expansion by their residential bedfellows.”

Anne Soward, whose child is also at Benthal added: “For Benthal pupils to spend almost half their primary life in portakabins is not on. The best solution is not to knock down and displace two schools, but to find a way to build the new secondary school as soon as possible.

“I’m angry about the whole scenario, it stinks and if Hackney set a precedent by getting this approved at planning, all schools in the area will have the same fate.”

A council spokesman said: “We carried out a review of its existing primary school sites to identify whether there were any sites big enough to accommodate a new secondary school and, equally importantly, where the displaced primary school could be re-provided locally.

“As a result of the review, the Benthal, Nightingale and redeveloped Tiger Way group of sites was the only one that fit the requirement.”