Pre-consultation exhibition for residential proposal on the Bolingbroke site

Author: Cyril Richert

The St George’s trust organised an exhibition for their pre-consultation on proposals for new flats and health facilities on the Bolingbroke site (read our previous article HERE).

The Wandsworth Primary Care Trust (PCT) announced plans to close the Bolingbroke Hospital temporarily and consult the public on moving its services to other locations in the Borough back in 2006. The Bolingbroke hospital was closed the year after, despite a campaign to prevent the closure of the healthcare facility and its services were dispersed, mostly to St John’s Therapy Centre on St John’s Hill. Since then, the PCT and St George’s NHS Trust (SGT – who owns and operated the hospital) have looked for options to sell the site. In 2009, English Heritage awarded the building Grade II listing status (which means the building may not be demolished or altered without special planning permission), due to the building’s architectural interest, a rare set of children’s tiles and its “unusually lavish” marble-clad lobby, war memorials and radiated corridors.

Although the campaign to save the Bolingbroke hospital intended initially to keep a health facility on-site, a new project led by the Neighbourhood School Campaign (NSC) hopes now to use the site to set up a much needed secondary school in Clapham Junction.

The PCT and SGT claim that although the Trust and project team have been proactively engaged with Wandsworth Council (LBW), Partnership for Schools and the NSC over the issue of a secondary school on the site, unfortunately to date, no financial offer has been made to buy the site within the timescale that is vital to the Trust. As they are looking to raise money to enhance services in St Georges Hospital (Tooting), they need the sale to be completed within the financial year (31 March 2011). Therefore they have put forward a plan to transform the Bolingbroke buildings into high standard residential, in order to maximise the value of the site (click on the photos below to see each redevelopment current/proposed).

David Canzini (a member of that team who sent me the information I published last week) explained in more detailed their need to determine the market value of the site. In the book, the Bolingbroke site is worth £7.5m. Some developers have suggested that a residential development might generate up to £20m. Realistically SGT is looking for a value between £10m and £13.5m depending on the success of the planning proposal. He said that although Wandsworth Council made a proposal to buy the site, they have not shown any money commitment and therefore the Trust faces the obligation to provide a plan B, should the funding promised by the Council not be existent/sufficient.

On the other side, the Council denies such claim and distributed a leaflet saying:

The Council has made the Trust an offer to buy the Bolingbroke site for the provision of both the promised health facilities and a new school. This offer has been made in accordance to the timescale laid by the Trust. The Trust, as a public body has a duty to deal with the Council. It cannot sell to another party at this stage.

Negotiations between the Council and the Trust for the site’s purchase have already begun. Once the are completed there will be a fresh planning application which will include the new school alongside the health facilities.

The Council has written to the Trust’s chief executive formally drawing his attention to the misleading information in the consultation document and asked for this to be corrected.

We haven’t seen the letter from the Council, therefore it is difficult to draw any line on who’s telling the truth. It could well be that, depending on each side, the views are partially correct: Wandsworth Council could have made an offer close to the book value and is looking for some additional money from the Education Secretary. As the outcome of the UK wide 2010 Spending Review is due to be announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 20 October 2010, there is currently no certainty that any more money will top-up the Council’s offer. Therefore SGT is claiming that, to date, no [reliable] financial offer has been made to buy the site.

On the planning proposal itself, members of the NSC raised a number of issues that could prevent the planning approval, such as the prime necessity to keep the building as a public site (which would be achieved with the school) and the obligation to liaise with the Council to achieve the best public usage of the site.

Beside all this debate, it was brought to my attention that the Bolingbroke site was acquired, through public subscription and charitable gifts, by John Erskine Clarke at the end of the 19th century, whose aim was to provide public health service for the residents of Battersea. It would be a shame to see the memory of the great man to be betrayed 120 years later and the site to be sold to private interests on profit consideration only.

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Bolingbroke hospital redeveloped as a residential site?

Author: Cyril Richert

The campaign for a secondary school

A lot of talks have been going for the past 12 months on the need to have a new secondary school in the area of Clapham Junction. The Neighbourhood School Campaign has launched an initiative to set-up a free school at the proposed site of the Bolingbroke hospital.

The “Bolingbroke team” as we could nickname it, has selected the educational specialists ARK Schools, a charity which has already set up academies across London, such as Evelyn Grace in Brixton and Ark Academy in Wembley. Setting up a free school is not that simple, from the selection of the organisation in charge of running it, to the level of education provided. If the school goes ahead, then Ark should appoint the teaching staff and run the school as an academy with direct funding from the government.

The parent promoters of the school have met with Michael Gove and even with David Cameron, but that does not mean the school will definitely go ahead. Budgets are tight and the new schools model has yet to be fully defined. The Neighbourhood Schools Campaign has an excellent case however. There are simply no state secondary schools within a 7 square mile area centred on the Bolingbroke site, and year 6 children leaving the local primaries scatter to as many as 49 different secondary schools. The Bolingbroke would make an excellent site for a 5-form entry school (i.e. around 900 students including a sixth form) and both Ark and the parent promoters are committed to working with the Council to ensure that local residents are properly consulted.

The NHS is proposing to use the old Bolingbroke site for residential

However the NHS is proposing an alternative plan this autumn in order to maximise the value of the site.

St George’s Healthcare Trust (SGHT) are looking to sell the old Bolingbroke Hospital site to raise much needed funds for healthcare in Wandsworth and South London . The sale needs to take place within the current financial year so that the vital investment that the Trust has identified from the Bolingbroke sale; including an extension to St George’s A&E department and expansion of its resuscitation department where major trauma patients are admitted; can be delivered. The Trust is mandated to achieve the best price for the disposal of its assets and is dedicated to fulfilling its promise to the local community by providing space within the new development for the PCT, (NHS Wandsworth).

The best professional advice given to the Trust has indicated that the maximum sale value for the site will be realised by achieving planning permission for a PCT/ residential development and that is what the project team will be conducting a pre-application consultation on.

The consultation exhibition will take place on Friday 10th (evening) and Saturday 11th (morning) September and a leaflet giving some details and inviting people to the exhibition has been delivered to approximately 10,000 homes around the Bolingbroke site (download HERE).

According to David Canzini (a member of that team who sent me the information) the PCT / residential application does not preclude or prejudice other uses for the site, such as a school. The Trust and project team have been proactively engaged with Wandsworth Council (LBW), Partnership for Schools and the Neighbourhood School Campaign over the issue of a secondary school on the site. Although there has been considerable progress made, unfortunately to date, no financial offer has been made to buy the site within the timescale that is vital to the Trust.

The key issues for the Trust in selling the Bolingbroke site are:

  1. Timescale (sale completed within the financial year)
  2. Maximum value to re-invest in healthcare
  3. Provision for the PCT

The proposed development would include:

  • 1600sq m for PCT use
  • 50 apartments
  • Mix of 2, 3 and 4 bed
  • Included 30% affordable (social rented and shared)
  • 44 underground car parking spaces (no residents permits allowed)
  • 58 cycle spaces
  • Sensitive landscaping
  • Highest quality design and build
  • No increase in height or width of building
  • Traffic studies show residential and PCT use has least impact on local residents

Are we going to have a secondary school in the area? Do you want more residential in the neighbourhood? Is it going to increase the pressure on the already over-subscribed primary schools in Northcote ward?

It is important to give your opinion and attend the pre-application exhibition:
on Friday 10th September 2010
from 6.30pm – 9.00pm
and Saturday 11th September 2010
from 9.30am – 12.30pm
at Main Hall, Chatham Hall,
152 Northcote Road, SW11 6RD

Alternatively you can email bolingbroke.consult@stgeorges.nhs.uk
call on 07772 572 955 (24 hours) or visit the website
at http://www.bolingbroke-future.co.uk

Conservatives commitment on a school for Bolingbroke hospital site

>> Your chance to contribute: tell us what your think on Clapham Junction station redevelopment

Author: Cyril Richert

A story on the Neighbourhood School Campaign for a secondary school in the area of Clapham Junction (possible site being the former Bolingbroke hospital) was published in the Evening Standard on Tuesday 4th. They said:

Firms including Cognita, set up by former Ofsted boss Chris Woodhead, have held talks with the parent campaigners about operating the school.

Shadow children’s secretary Michael Gove welcomed the news, describing the companies as “excellent education providers”. […]

Five education groups have been in contact with the Wandsworth campaign so far. Two are education charities that sponsor state-funded city academies in London, Ark and the Harris Federation. The three others are private and overseas school firms — Sweden’s International English Schools, WCL and Cognita. […]

Sources said Cognita was treating the Wandsworth project “seriously” but is waiting for the outcome of Thursday’s election before taking the plans any further.

For the Labour, Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, did also promise help and support for a new school for Battersea, as reported by Martin Linton, former MP for the area. Ed Balls, wrote to Wandsworth Council in March 2010 (PDF), to let them know he would try to help the council allocate some of the £300 million pounds it has for improving education in Battersea, towards a new school.

Now with Michael Gove acting as the new Schools Secretary, taking his brief in opposition with him into government, there is a chance to see a definite move and the possibility for the Conservatives council to work with the government to select a firm to operate the school. Cognita, which was waiting for the election result to see which team was in charge, should now be in a position to go ahead with their proposal.

As per comment from Kate Williams below: Cognita are no longer in the running to run the proposed school at the Bolingbroke. The selected education provider is Ark, a not-for-profits organisation who already run eight successful academies, 6 in London. If the school goes ahead, then Ark will appoint the teaching staff and run the school as an academy with direct funding from the government.

Secondary school

Author: Cyril Richert

Beside the Neighbourhood School Campaign for a secondary school in the area of Clapham Junction (possible site being the former Bolingbroke hospital) I quickly publish below 3 links to be added to the debate:

  • Three Wandsworth secondary schools are among the country’s top performers in this year’s national league tables. A press release from Wandsworth Council said:

From a total of 3,196 state secondary schools, Southfields Community College and Chestnut Grove School recorded the fifth and ninth highest scores respectively in the Contextual Value Added (CVA) league table.

In addition, Ernest Bevin College was named the fifth most improved school in the country with GCSE results rising 35 per cent over the last four years.

  • Just two companies remain on the shortlist of firms bidding for Wandsworth’s Building Schools for the Future contract. A press release from Wandsworth Council said:

Bovis Lend Lease Ltd and Willmott Dixon Ltd have been selected to go through to the final stage of the tendering process. A preferred bidder is expected to be chosen by the end of July.

They will produce detailed plans for investment in the two ‘sample’ schools, Southfields Community College and Burntwood School, and ICT investment across all the schools.

A new Catholic secondary school, Saint John Bosco, will also be built as part of the project and Elliot School in Putney will be completely remodelled.

As a Conservative policy, the Council is supporting the New School Campaign

Author: Cyril Richert

There is an interesting discussion going on since mid-October about the opportunity of a new school in between the commons on the website NappyValleyNet. Some people suggest supporting existing schools already in place and stopping huge amount of pupils travelling from other borough into them, and that support should go on local school rather than avoiding them due to some pre conceived ideas about the kind of children who attend. Others highlight that there is no secondary school in the all area of Clapham Junction and Northcote Road, that Wandsworth closed so many schools in the past and that taxes should provide good local state secondaries in every neighbourhood.

However it seems that the Council is now fully engaged and being openly supportive and bringing in the involvement of relevant shadow cabinet members.

Edward Lister, Leader of the Council, has made a statement to the website NappyValleyNet saying:

I want to keep you up to date with developments on the ‘free school’ plan which is being promoted by the Conservatives’ Shadow Children’s Secretary Michael Gove.

Michael Gove’s team met with my colleagues to discuss the growing interest from parents in parts of Wandsworth and Battersea in setting up their own self-run schools within the state sector.

This was attended by Executive Member for Children and Young People Cllr Kathy Tracey, Chairman of Children and Young People’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee Cllr Peter Dawson and Jane Ellison, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Battersea.

Just because schools are in the state sector, they don’t have to be state-run. Currently the major obstacle to progress is the way central government controls schools’ funding. With a more radical approach we could free up the system so that it positively encourages local alternatives – whether these are led by parents’ groups or private companies.

So we can move this forward we have invited Michael to a meeting with interested parents. This will take place in the next few weeks and we will publish details on nappyvalley.net

I’m also keen that other parents groups around the borough should be aware of the opportunities. Anyone interested in setting up new schools can get in touch direct with the New Schools Network, a charity that offers free support to groups looking to establish non-selective state schools.

I will keep you up-to-date with developments on these exciting changes for parents

An article was published in the Evening Standard on Wednesday 16 December about family run schools:

Click on the image to see it bigger

Website of the New School Campaign: http://www.thensc.net

No secondary school in Clapham Junction area. Join the campaign!

Author: Jon De Maria

Dear friends, family and colleagues

As a local parent here in Wandsworth, I’m part of a group of concerned mums and dads that’s campaigning for a new state secondary school for the Northcote Road area.

We think everyone will benefit – our children of course, and the community we all call home.

For the full story please go to http://www.thensc.net

We’d really like to know what you think? And if you’re on side, we could really do with your help.

If you can visit our website, sign the online petition, and forward this email to friends, family, colleagues – anyone who might help us gather the support we need to get this campaign rolling.

And on behalf of the Neighbourhood School Campaign, thank you.

There is no state secondary school in South Battersea; the seven square miles served by Alderbrook Primary, High View and the two largest primary schools in Wandsworth, Belleville and Honeywell.