Turing House

Permanent Site Information

Turing House initially opened in Teddington in 2015.  The Education Funding Agency (EFA) has succesfully negotiated the purchase of a permanent site within Richmond Borough, on Hospital Bridge Road in Heathfield. It is a large greenfield site with more than enough space for the new school facilities that will, subject to planning permission, be built there.  We will be keeping this page updated with news as the plans progress.

Following a key decision on the sale of the land by Hounslow Council in December 2016, work can now be progressed on our planning application, ensuring that the impact on the local community and neighbouring garden centre is minimised and opportunities for community benefit are maximised. 

The first step is a feasibility study, where reference designs are drawn up, surveys of the land are done and the information is put together for building contractors to prepare their bids.  We’ve had a number of meetings with the architect and it’s exciting to see real plans being created. The size of the site will enable us to have excellent sporting facilities and we’ve already started to look at how these could be made available to the community.

The timing of our move to Hospital Bridge Road is subject to the planning process, with the earliest proposed date being September 2018. 

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 EFA 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 Education Funding Agency. 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.

Is it common for new schools to open in temporary accommodation?

It is very common for free schools to open up in temporary accommodation, and move to their permanent home at a later date, but it is only allowed if the Schools Minister considers that the permanent site option has sufficient security to mitigate the risks of the temporary site being outgrown. The confirmation of our funding agreement by the Schools Minister in 2015 was indicative of that certainty.

RET's first school, the Bristol Free school, and more recently Kings' School in Hove, both successfully opened in temporary acommodation and families have been very happy with the high quality facilities provided.

How will transport links be managed? 

Many of our students live within walking distnce of the proposed site, and others are most likely to use public transport.  We have already made contact with Transport for London to alert them to potential future changes in travel patterns during peak hours, and we will keep them up to date with our site announcements.  They have been very accommodating and have said that, with timely input from us, they can position themselves to provide sufficient buses to cope with any new demand from the opening of Turing House.

What about 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, potentially mitigating any risk of securing a permanent site on a 'subject to planning permission' basis.

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 open land?

Nobody wants a new school in their backyard, and objections can be particularly vocal in cases where open land is being considered.  However, schools need to go somewhere, and where there are no easy options, difficult options may need to be pursued instead, albeit with proper local consultation.

Of course schools also bring huge benefit, not only to the families that use them, but to the wider community that gains access to their facilities.  Many local 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, and should not automatically be considered a net-loss to the community.

It is worth noting that Policy DMOS6 in LBRuT's Development Management Plan seeks to protect and enhance public open space, as follows: "Improvement of the openness and character of the public open space including measures to allow for convenient access for all residents will be encouraged where appropriate."

The explanatory text encourages the dual use of school recreation facilities as a way of making the best use of open space.

Does that include sites with "Metropolitan Open Land" status?

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.

I have heard that 80% of Turing House students will be from Fulwell/Teddington, is that true?

No, that is a misinterpretation of the admissions policy.

Turing House has been established to serve the Middlesex side of Richmond borough.  We therefore have an Admissions Point in the centre of the area, chosen as the location that is furthest from other co-educational secondaries, and therefore most in need of our new school.  Our website describes the Local Need in the adjacent wards of Fulwell & Hampton Hill, North Teddington, West Twickenham and South Twickenham. 

However, there is also borough-wide demand for good school places, including in Heathfield and Whitton in the area around the school site.  From 2017 there will be a second Admissions Point at the proposed permanent school site in Heathfield and we  will prioritise applicants by distance to both points if the school is oversubscribed.

Our oversubscription criteria prioritise places by distance; 80% relative to the Fulwell/Teddington point, and 20% to the Heathfield point. However this certainly doesn't mean that 80% of the students will be from Fulwell/Teddington.  The two Admissions Points act as centres of gravity, but the actual size and shape of their catchments will depend on multiple factors. 

The Allocation Maps for 2015 and 2016 (when there was only one admissions point) show that children are, in fact, gaining access to Turing House from many wards right across the Middlesex side of the borough.

 

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