School Expansion Plans Win Next Legal Stage

Local campaigners continue their fight against plans

Plans to expand Dundonald Junior School into the neighbouring recreation ground have gone through the next stage of the legal process.

Merton Council wants to increase the size of Dundonald Primary School by replacing Dundonald Recreation Ground's pavilion with a two-storey building.

It had to modify a legal covenant on the land, and this had the approval of the Upper Tribunal earlier this week.

Merton Council cabinet member for education Councillor Martin Whelton said: "The Upper Tribunal was certainly one of the major hurdles we have had to overcome in the process of expanding the school, but there are still a number of issues to address.

"We will work with school governors to assess how quickly we need to provide the extra spaces for the children. We are committed to ensuring Merton's green spaces are available for everyone to use and to ensure they are here for future generations."

The expansion would provide an extra 30 places per year for children living local to Dundonald School, which will make 210 places in total.

Lorraine Maries, Chairman of the Protect Dundonald Rec campaign, said: "PDR is disappointed at the decision by the Upper Tribunal to allow Merton Council's application to remove the Innes covenant on Dundonald Rec.

"The effective loss of the Covenant goes way beyond what the Council needed to achieve their proposed school expansion, and threatens parks and gardens throughout Merton which have, until now, enjoyed the legal protection of restrictive covenants.

"However, this judgement has not removed the public's right to Dundonald Rec, which is held under a Statutory Trust with the public as beneficiaries.

"There remain several legal safeguards which prevent the Council building on this public open space. Planning permission has not yet been obtained due to insurmountable legal problems, and the Council still has to try to appropriate the land, a process which necessitates public consultation and acting on resulting objections. In both planning and appropriation procedures the public interest is paramount and cannot be ignored.

"PDR will continue to strongly oppose the Council's plans to remove public open space and sports facilities, and we remain confident that we will succeed."

What do you think? Why not comment on our forum?

June 27, 2013