School could be built on car park site
Plans for a new primary school on the site of a Wimbledon shopping centre car park are being considered in a bid to find much-needed pupil places.
The car park at the Centre Court shopping centre could make way for a new school, as part of confidential proposals being considered by Merton borough council.
The council has recently expanded 18 primary schools to help it cope with a 39% increase in the borough's birth rate since 2002.
A report presented to the council's Cabinet earlier this year has already said two new schools are needed in the borough.
It has now emerged that Centre Court shopping centre's car park, which is owned by the council, is one of their options.
Councillor Martin Whelton, Cabinet member for education, said: "Birth rates have gone up a third in five years and we have a duty of responsibiltity to provide enough school places.
"We are being pro-active in terms of investigating this matter. The car park has not been ruled out, but there are no firm plans or proposals. We are looking at options, and we may not build a new school at all."
He said he hoped the way forward would be clearer in the autumn when a commissioned report comes back to the council's Cabinet.
But local Conservatives have long campaigned for a new school to be built in Gap Road and are asking for a fast decision.
The council will be asking parents and residents for their views on expanding four schools in the borough - at Hillcross, Merton Abbey, Poplar and Pelham Primary Schools. All these schools are taking an extra reception class this September.
Expansion projects are due to be completed for children to return in September at All Saints CE (South Wimbledon Centre), Aragon, Benedict, Gorringe Park, Hollymount, Joseph Hood, Liberty, Singlegate, St. Marys RC and William Morris Primary Schools.
Construction work has been completed in the past 18 months for the expansions of Holy Trinity CE, St Thomas of Canterbury RC and Wimbledon Chase Primary School. The legal process for permanent expansion has recently been completed for Cranmer and Wimbledon Park Primary Schools.
The controversial expansion of Dundonald Primary School into Dundonald Park will be considered by the council's planning applications committee in September.
Councillor Oonagh Moulton, Conservative Education Spokesman said: "How much longer will Labour prevaricate? Their inability to make clear, decisive decisions is devastating for children who year after year are having to travel further and further to school.
"Merton Conservatives pledged to build a new primary school three years ago, and had earmarked £10 million for the project when we lost control of the Council in 2010. If we were still running the council, we would be opening the doors to the first pupils this September. We demand Labour makes the decision to build a new primary school in the Wimbledon area without further delay."
Details about the public consultations for all schools will be available in September and will give residents and parents the chance to ask questions and raise any concerns.
What do you think? Why not comment on our forum?
July 11, 2012