Planning permission refused for Underhill Ark Academy school

Plans to build an all-through Ark Academy school for up to 1,680 pupils on the Underhill Stadium site have been rejected at Barnet Council's Planning Committee (25 January).

Councillors on the committee ruled that the size and bulk of the school was too big for the site, that traffic and parking resulting from the school would have an unacceptable impact, and that there were no exceptional circumstances to allow the school to be built on greenbelt land.

The plans for the school have caused controversy and concern amongst residents living near the Underhill Stadium site, many of whom were worried about the size and scale of the school, and the parking and traffic problems it will cause.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, had also advised Barnet Council in October that the school's planning application as originally submitted did not comply with the London Plan.

Labour Underhill councillors had organised a public meeting for residents in September so they could hear direct from Ark representatives and Barnet council officers about the plans for the school. Over 150 residents attended, and at the end of the meeting an indicative vote showed an overwhelming majority were opposed to the plans.

Underhill councillor, Paul Edwards, who spoke against the planning application at the committee said "I am very glad that common sense prevailed at the committee last night. 

"The committee's ruling reflects the concerns that residents raised at the public meeting we organised four months ago.

"Their main concerns include the size and height of the school buildings; the resulting traffic problems that will inevitably paralyse Mays Lane and surrounding roads; and the development of local Green Belt land.

"The development is excessively large given its very close proximity to local housing.  It will take more than three times as many pupils as the Totteridge Academy, which has a much larger site and could accommodate further expansion.

"The size of the building means the school will undoubtedly invade the privacy of the  homes and gardens surrounding the school – regardless of any of the fine words in this document.

"The arrival of more than 120 teaching staff and 1800 pupils every day will exacerbate a traffic problem that has already reached unacceptable levels for local residents. 62 parking spaces is going to lead to increased street parking and will inevitably lead to future calls for a CPZ.

"The residents who live in close proximity of this development do not want to see this scale of development in their back gardens, nor would I suggest would any member of the committee."

Ends.

Notes:

1. For more on this issue from Barnet Labour see:

http://www.barnetlabour.org.uk/mayor_of_london_ark_academy_planning_application_does_not_comply_with_the_london_plan

http://www.barnetlabour.org.uk/underhill_residents_asked_to_respond_to_ark_academy_planning_application

http://www.barnetlabour.org.uk/underhill_councillors_invite_residents_to_public_meeting_on_ark_academy_plans

For more information contact Cllr Paul Edwards: cllr.p.edwards@barnet.gov.uk

To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568

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