By Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter
London’s second largest hothouse will be saved and the heritage of Avery Hill Park secured after plans for a new 1,150-student school were approved by Greenwich council.
The Department of Education’s push for the new school at the University of Greenwich’s mansion site was formally approved on Tuesday following more than two hours of debate with members of the public and local politicians at a Greenwich planning committee meeting.
The school will provide single-sex education for nearly 1,000 secondary school age boys, with a co-educational sixth form for another 250 students.
The new school will be managed by the Harris Federation Trust, which also manages the nearby academies at Falconwood and Greenwich.
While the continuing use of the site to educate the borough’s young people was welcomed by many councillors, there was also a raft of objections to the proposal.
Eltham MP Clive Efford outlined multiple concerns, including the loss of a BMX track at the site, as well as concerns the western section of the site would be “cleansed” and “sanitised” of “all wildlife areas” to make way for new grass pitches.
He also expressed regret a small nursery employing 20 people would have to move on from the site, while highlighting concerns over parking and traffic troubles increasing.
Traffic concerns and the impact of hundreds of new students travelling to and from school were a returning concern throughout the meeting – particularly given the proximity of the site to another school, Stationers’ Crown Woods academy, just a few hundred metres away.
One resident cast doubts on the applicant’s claims that the majority of students would arrive via public transport, voicing concerns that many instead would be dropped off in individual vehicles by their parents.
“It’ll be a social and environmental disaster. The current infrastructure can’t cope with traffic at peak times,” one said, saying that roads around the site were already used as a rat run during peak hours.
However George McMillan, the principal of Harris Academy Greenwich, who is set to take over the stewardship of the new school, said the organisation was well-placed to handle the opening of a new site.
He said the schools would “work together”, with start and end times staggered by at least 30 minutes.
He added they were “well used to managing teenagers” and were practised in “nipping any issues in the bud”.
Pictured top: An artist’s impression of what the site could look like
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