The Mayor of London has advised Barnet Council that the Ark Pioneer Academy planning application proposed for the Underhill Stadium site "does not comply with the London Plan".
A Greater London Authority letter and planning report dated 31 October states that "the proposed school development is 'inappropriate' on Green Belt" but goes on to say that "changes might, however, remedy the current deficiencies, and could possibly lead to the application becoming compliant with the London Plan."
Other reasons given for non-compliance include that more work needs to be done on a community use plan for the sports and recreation facilities; 'before and after' CGI visuals are required to demonstrate the impact of the building on the Green Belt; and that a full school travel plan secured by conditions should be provided.
The report sets out in detail that there is too much emphasis on car travel to the school. There are proposals for 62 car parking spaces for staff, as well as use of the 60 space Barnet Estates car park for pupil drop off. The report states that:
"The applicant has forecast there will be 251 drop off and pick up movements in each peak, which will be accommodated by park and stride proposals and some street parking in the vicinity. Given that the proposed school is expected to cater for pupils within a local catchment TfL does not support the principle of using off site car parks for pupil drop off as this encourages car use. Moreover, their promotion is not compatible with travel planning measures to encourage walking and cycling to school. TfL would therefore consider mode shift away from car trips a more sustainable solution, in addition to staggered start and finish time."
If Barnet Council grants planning permission without resolving the issues raised by the Mayor, the Mayor can direct the Council to refuse the application.
Underhill councillor, Paul Edwards said "I welcome the Mayor's statement on the Ark Academy planning application. Residents were particularly concerned about the traffic and parking chaos that a school with 1,680 pupils would create, so his comments on car use are apposite.
"I recognise that the applicant could still seek to remedy the issues raised by the Mayor, or Barnet Council could agree to grant planning permission subject to conditions. I am therefore writing to Barnet Council to seek clarification on their intentions."
1. For more on this issue from Barnet Labour see:
For more information contact Cllr Paul Edwards: firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568