Planning Application Finally Submitted for Free Schools on MOL

A planning application has finally been submitted for two ‘free’ schools run by an Academy chain on Lea Bridge Road. If the application is approved, the primary and secondary school will be constructed on Metropolitan Open Land which is historically part of Leyton Marshes.

Central government’s Education Funding Agency purchased the site at 150A Lea Bridge Road from Thames Water in 2015 for the purpose of building these schools for close to £40m .

There has been local opposition to the proposed schools on both educational and environmental grounds. Construction will increase in the amount of traffic congestion and air pollution on the already busy road. Traffic and travel plans contradict and undermine the Mini Holland plans to improve and extend the use of sustainable transport on the road.

Metropolitan Open Land should be protected by law and has the same planning status as Green Belt. Loss of MOL to development is also proposed on other parts of Leyton Marshes, both sides of the road; for the new ‘double-pad’ ice centre and for the construction of private housing to fund this development, at the Waterworks. If all this development is approved, there will be irrevocable loss of public land and public access across the marshes.

A number of mature trees, including wild cherry and hornbeam, are proposed to be felled. Lea Bridge Road has recently lost a huge number of its trees, to the cycle lane outside the ice rink; to Aldi’s new car park; mature street trees have been felled along the stretch leading to Orient Way from the Hare & Hounds pub and trees were also lost to traffic improvements on the junction with Hoe Street.

Waltham Forest Council rejected the proposals at the pre-planning stage as inadequate in meeting the educational needs of the borough. There are schools in more central locations in Waltham Forest that the Council would like to see extended and improved instead. Consequently, the intended opening of the schools (in temporary buildings) was moved from September 2017 to September 2018.

The planning application has now been submitted to Waltham Forest Council. Comments can be submitted to Waltham Forest Council online. You can just enter 171408 on the Application ID box to get to the list of documents accompanying the application.

Below are some key arguments you may wish to use/ amend for your comments/ objection.

Please do so by 7th June 2017 if you can.

1) It’s Metropolitan Open Land and flood plain, so should not be developed. The applicant says there will be more green space but these will be school playing fields and the public will be denied access to them.
2) They are proposing two free schools. The secondary school is being proposed by an academy chain that has no experience of running secondary schools. The school is in the wrong location to meet the need for school places identified by the London Borough of Waltham Forest.
3) The schools will be built next to a busy and polluted road, which is bad for the children. The traffic taking children, teachers and support staff to and from the school will also increase pollution and the volume of traffic on a road that is already gridlocked at peak times. Turning into and out of the site will also be challenging and the cycle path is on the opposite side of the road so that if children do come by bicycle they will still have to cross a major road, stopping traffic in the process.
4) There are significant ecological concerns. The site and the area surrounding the site is full of Giant Hogweed, which means the schools will need to continually spray with glyphosate (with detrimental health effects for the children) or let the children play amongst the Giant Hogweed (with detrimental health effects for the children). The site is right next to the nature reserve and the light pollution and the noise pollution will disrupt this haven for wildlife and for human users. There are also plans to chop down a number of mature trees.
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