How was the permanent site decided?
We all know land is in short supply in our area, and expensive to obtain. We have published details of some of our past site preferences, and why they were ruled out. In addition to these we proposed several other local sites to the Education Funding Agency for investigation and suggestions were also made by Richmond Council and members of the local community.
Having considered the options, the EFA progressed the purchase of the Hospital Bridge Road site in consultation with Richmond and Hounslow Local Authorities. It is within reasonable distance of our central admissions point, and is large enough to accommodate not only a brand new school building and sports facilities but also outdoor playing fields, hard surface courts and recreation areas.
Why haven't you been able to publish more detail about the process for securing a permanent site?
All of the site information we publish needs to be approved by the ESFA. They are very cautious about releasing details because commercial negotiations must be kept confidential. Leaked information can increase competition for sites or cause sensitive discussions to break down. It can also cause unnecessary distress to neighbours of sites if partial information can't be confirmed until negotiations have sufficiently progressed. However, we also recognise that lack of information can be frustrating too, so we do publish whatever we can.
When will local residents be consulted on the plans?
When a contractor has been appointed, and the full plans prepared, they will be published for public consultation as part of the planning process. People will then have substantive information to comment on.
Will it be difficult to get Planning Permission?
Obtaining planning permission can be a lengthy process. However, national and regional planning frameworks are strongly supportive of the establishment of new schools.
The National Planning Policy Framework requires local planning authorities to take a proactive, positive and collaborative approach to ensuring that a sufficient choice of school places is available to meet local needs.
The current London Plan states that proposals for new schools should be considered positively, and only refused where any negative local impacts that can't be addressed through planning conditions or obligations substantially outweigh the desirability of establishing the school.
Can schools be established on Metropolitan Open Land?
There have been cases of schools built on Metropolitan Open Land (MOL), but only when it is the only viable option. The Education Funding Agency has a responsibility to rule out all other potential options before progressing planning applications on MOL.
Schools do need to go somewhere, and where there are no easy options, difficult options need to be pursued instead, albeit with proper local consultation.
Will there be benefits to compensate for the loss of open space?
Schools bring huge benefit, not only to the families that use them, but to the wider community that gains access to their facilities. Many schools act as low cost community and sports centres outside of the standard school day.
Conversion of open land for school use can therefore be an opportunity to enhance recreational provision, especially when the land was not previously accessible to the public as in this case.
Has Turing House been established to serve Whitton and Heathfield?
Absolutely! The school was established to serve the Middlesex side of Richmond Borough, so Whitton and Heathfield are very much a part of that. Many of our current Turing House families come from those areas and they are highly valued members of our school community.
When we began our marketing campaign for a new school back in 2011 we sent information to all of the borough's primary schools, including those in Whitton/Heathfield. Our supporters also stood outside local primary schools and handed out leaflets.
Our site search has always included Whitton and Heathfield in its boundaries, and other sites in those wards were looked at by the Education Funding Agency.