Dundonald School Expansion Clears Final Hurdle

Work to expand school now set to go-ahead

Plans to expand a primary school into a popular Wimbledon recreation ground will now go ahead after the final legal challenge was dismissed.

Plans to increase the size of Dundonald Primary from a one-form entry to a two-form entry school, by replacing Dundonald Recreation Ground's pavilion with a two-storey building have been opposed by the Protect Dundonald Rec (PDR) campaign.

The decision to allow building work to start comes after a lengthy judicial process.

Campaigners against the scheme are now calling for the council to put Dundonald Rec (left) into Trust.

The work will mean the school will now get extra classrooms and new hall to accommodate 30 more children, making 210 places in total. 

For the recreation ground there will be a new replacement pavilion, three new tennis courts and a new public children’s play area. to spend their leisure time at the recreation ground.

Merton Council cabinet member for education Councillor Martin Whelton said: “We are delighted with the judge’s decision to allow us to provide more school places at the outstanding Dundonald School.  We were only able to offer places to pupils living within 106 metres of the school this year. We will now be able to make sure many more children will be able to have a great start to their education at one of our best schools.

“We hope for work to start shortly and will keep residents in the surrounding roads and parents up to date on what is happening with regards to the works.  I welcome the expansion and look forward to seeing the opening of new school and community facilities in the months to come.”

But Lorraine Maries, Chairman of Protect Dundonald Rec, said: "Merton Council managed to use a legal technicality to over-ride the original covenant protecting the Rec. Now they have played the system in order to get away with environmental vandalism. How can anyone trust a council which is prepared to resort to deceit and misrepresentation to remove public rights?”

Lee Broomfield, Chairman of the Friends of Dundonald Park said: "Merton Council should be ashamed, this land was covenanted to the community by John Innes. Taking away those rights shows contempt for our heritage."

Dr Ernesto Pinto, Chairman of Dundonald Rec Tennis club, said: "When the new school playground is built, our club will be left homeless – we have more than 300 members, including hundreds of children who benefit from the free Olympic legacy programme."

Rob Smid of the Dundonald Sports Committee said: "The proposed sports pavilion will no longer be on public land. There is no guarantee that the sporting public will have the right to use it, so the use of all the playing fields for organised games and tournaments in the future is at serious risk."

They put out a joint statement calling for the council to put the remaining land on Dundonald Rec into Trust, either through a Community Trust of through the Fields in Trust charity. "This means that the rest of the Rec would be protected in perpetuity by a legally binding agreement", they said.

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September 23, 2014