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Jun 20 2013

Vaughan School Expansion Gets Go-Ahead

harrow_council_logo2In a closely-run vote last night, Harrow Council approved the expansion plans for Vaughan Primary School.

The plans, as we’ve posted before, affect a number of local residents who live adjacent to the school grounds, and fears had been raised about car parking, flooding and a whole host of other issues which we’ve touched on before.

 

 

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  1. HarrowRes

    The council has chosen to accept a plan that will flood 2 playgrounds and a car park and increase the risk of flooding to neighbouring properties.

    It also breaches at least 16 planning policies.

    The Labour councillors did not listen to the convincing arguments based on planning policies put forward by Councillor Stephen Greek instead they chose to side with the views of the supporters whose only argument was that there is a need for more school places in Harrow.

    The objectors have never disagreed with the expansion they simply wanted to work with the applicants to deliver a solution which met everyone’s objectives.

    Such an option was available but the council chose to ignore it as they were clearly already committed to the option presented at the meeting. This was the option that was presented as a fait accompli at the ‘consultation’ meeting last July.

    As Stephen Greek rightly said, the residents were not involved in any aspect of the design, however it transpires that this is now the usual course of action taken for all future school expansions.

    The council has learnt an awful lot of lessons throughout this whole saga but the local residents have to pay the price.

    Possibly the worse planning decision this council has ever made – I don’t think we have heard the last of this.

  2. West Harrow resident

    The council has chosen to “listen” to “their experts” and it was a surprise Councillor Greek and the other Conservative Councillors on the committee clearly do not trust their own experts… perhaps there is a political message here?

    The supporters did NOT as you put it have only one argument. Actually, there were many – including the ACCEPTED plan is the least disruptive and means the children do NOT need to be “shipped-off” to The Wealdstone Teaching centre as was proposed by the Conservatives.

    The plan will give the children fantastic outdoor facilities for sport & play. The school will be a fantastic facility to match the high standards currently being achieved by the staff.

    The way you have put this infers that the playgrounds will flood upon every rainfall. Yes they will flood – BUT only in the case of a real FLOOD not “drainage issues” which is the current situation. They are “DESIGNED” to flood in the event that the tanks are FULL. If that amount of water level happened now then guess what – THE AREA WOULD FLOOD! If Councillor Greek cared to listen to the Director of Planning, the risk of flooding will be at worst the same as now or better. IT WILL NOT BE WORSE. Do you REALLY believe anyone would design something that will flood at every drop of rain??

    Another issue raised was the effectiveness of the current field. Councillor Greek spent a long time on this valuable piece of land as an effective soak-away or EXTRA overflow area in the case of a flood. It was actually pointed out to him that soil tests proved that due to the current CLAY base in the soil, the porousness was not effective in dispersing any excess water efficiently into the current drainage system. HOWEVER, guess what, the NEW flood prevention system and large containers under the playground WILL do this effectively.

    The Plan does NOT breach 16 planning issues – there were “arguments” put forward by Councillor Greek, however, his reasoning did not sound convincing as The Director of Planning answered the points very clearly. Permission was GRANTED by the Planning Officer and the Planning committee were “advised” to follow this advice.

    There was alot said about Options 1 and 2 – what many people have failed to recognise is, there are many practical issues in running a school including logistics, security and other factors which made those options not viable. Also, the logistics during the build would have been hugely disruptive for the children currently at the school.

    We do agree on something though, that this whole situation could have been handled better by the council. But that is history and lets hope they will learn from this…

    The real shame of this, was that it became very apparent that as much as the Conservative Councillors and those against the plan say they “appreciated” that the school had to expand and quickly and that they cared about the affect on the children – I am sad and disappointed to say I don’t believe they do – the other options were not practical solutions for the school hence they were rejected…

    As Councillor Phillips so eloquently put it “It is for the children of Harrow, our future” that the plan was granted. The community will be getting a fantastic school to be proud of!

  3. Liz

    Approval of the plan has not ibeen voted in a democratic way simply because the planning members participating in the vote were in split decision. However, a decision approving the development plan was made and sealed by the Labor Leader Chairman of the meeting. Approval has been voted by only that one vote which belongs to the party who were working for development in the place where there is a lot of opposition. Never mind breaking all the laws and regulations!! Regardless of a local residents who fought for changing the positioning of plans in some distance away from the local homes. They were taking into account all aspects of flood hazards, safety on local roads as well as violations of privacy rights and taking our sun into account which is invaluable in this country. Excessive expansion will take our daylight which is going to happen in our case. Happy we are?? Fences and bushes will be obstruction to our views which we thoroughly enjoyed over the years. Never mind overlooking. Is that fair, acceptable and democratic? No answers for any of that!!
    Given that, the planning department has a lot of area to take into account, the considerable distance away from the local buildings. But NO! I hope that all those who were in favor of the expansion are satisfied, but going back to the facts, none of the local residents was against the expansion!! But only against in how close the new school development is going to be from their homes, at the same time caring for other aspects of safety of the children and the local area. Would they care about it? The planning policies are against over development but even so the school is going to rise on our garden doorsteps. Congratulation to a fair undemocratic voting, you beat us to it.
    With sad feelings, one local resident. 🙁

  4. Local resident

    Not breaching planning issues? So how come the building is going to be higher than the local properties in residential area? How is that, the new school windows are going to face our gardens, were we should have no privacy in own gardens? How is that, the only sun we have is going to be reduced during the day time and our gardens are going to be overshadowed by bulky overdevelopment. During the winter months we will have even less of the praised sun. All of this frowns at as local residents by undemocratic voting, by only few? Where are the human rights? Those who voted for it are not going to live next to the monstrosity which we will have to face every day. Why there was no proper communication with the local residents before? No other alternatives were on board until now and straight away disqualified from being considered. We had to chase and dig ourselves to find out the real truth and all danger aspects to the development. Looks like, the planning is going to build the new lake underground for us to drawn in it, and before all safety issues are in place. Why do the local residents have to chase all that? Effectiveness of the current field is only when you see green flag and that is only few months a year. All the rest of the year you can see red flag, which means no entry to the fields. And you think the tanks will resolve the drainage problem? Councillor Greek was looking at it as a human and with the sensible and logical approach. So as you say, `that is the history now`, but remember the history in majority was BAD!!

  5. HarrowRes

    West Harrow Resident. How’s this for a political message.

    Last month at the Planning Meeting an application failed because it breached just 6 of the policies quoted by Councillor Greek. So how did that one fail yet this one pass.

    You need look no further than the petition that was drawn up for that one. It only had 42 signatures but who was organizing it ? None other than local resident Bob Currie Labour Councillor

    …and you think the Conservatives were voting politically

    This is just shameful.

    p.s. My apologies. I was wrong about the amount of policies breached, It was actually 19, not 16 as previously quoted.

  6. Cllr Willy Stoodley

    @ Liz – I am not a member of the Harrow Labour Group!

  7. See here for pictures of how the school might look from a neighbouring property.

  8. Mr D. RAja

    The Vaughan School expansion has been a total shambles from start to finish. The output of the Planning committee meeting in April was a deferral on the basis that it would give the applicant an opportunity to submit a different layout, consider other options or withdraw the application altogather. Councillor Keith Ferry confirmed this at the committee meeting and with the local press. Why was the same proposal put forward again?

    I can only be a politically motivated decision and none of the facts presented on the day were taken into account. All the Labour Councillors contributed immensely to the proceeding as they said nothing!!!!! One can only assume they had decided the outcome before the meeting started and were just going thorugh the motions.

    Finally, for the record, the residents were never against the expansion but were against what was proposed when there were other options that suited everyone better.

  9. Cllr Willy Stoodley

    @ Mr D. RAja – the deferral was for more info – it has to be the same unchanged application otherwise it wouldn’t be a deferral – it would be a fresh application!

  10. Cllr Willy Stoodley

    @ Paul – that picture doesn’t show the big trees that stand in the way of the building – have they been airbrushed out or something?!

  11. DisappointedResident

    Willy, the photo was not done by a professional but by an amateur resident.

    It was the closest we could get to an impression as to what it would look like as your council didn’t supply us with one.

    For your information there is one diseased tree missing from the photo which does not have leaves on it for 9 months of the year so I am not sure of the point you are trying to make?

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