By Sian Bayley
Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s £19,000-a-year prep school in Battersea has received the go-ahead from Wandsworth Council to expand into an all-through school, offering places up to the age of 18.
Thomas’s Battersea recently bought the Royal Academy of Dance building next door, and will open to new secondary pupils in September 2021.
For the first year the school will be based at the prep school, Thomas’s Battersea, and the Putney Vale site, before moving to the new Thomas’ Battersea Square site in late 2022.
The new site will provide space for 504 students and 26 classrooms and science laboratories, according to planning documents.
It will also include a sixth form centre, dining facilities and a large central atrium.
Thomas’s became one of the most famous schools in the world in September 2017 when Prince William dropped his son, and third in line to the throne, Prince George off at the gates.
Princess Charlotte started at the school in 2019.
Famous former pupils include model Cara Delevingne, singer Florence Welch and actress Tara Fitzgerald.
Ward councillor Rhodri Morgan raised several concerns from nearby residents, including about the size and scale of the development, the impact of the construction period, and fears that the expanded school will increase traffic and air pollution in the local area.
He said some residents also worried that pupils will take over local amenities such as Battersea Square at lunchtime, and would like pupils to sign a code of conduct and for staff to maintain “a watchful presence”.
Nevertheless, he acknowledged the school’s long term presence in the community and stressed the desire to keep good relations.
Several councillors raised the issue of traffic and congestion, as the school has a large number of pupils coming from a wider catchment, who often arrive by car.
Officers said that at least three more school buses would be provided for the school in addition to the four already in place.
They said they expected to see a reduction in the number of car trips to and from the site as a result of the removal of the existing car parking and the increased encouragement to travel sustainably, particularly given that secondary school pupils would be travelling independently.
The school’s proposed travel plan will look to reduce these numbers further, and would have staggered start and finish times for both the preparatory and secondary schools to reduce overall numbers
Councillors approved the scheme by eight votes to two.
Ben Thomas, Principal at Thomas’s London Day Schools, said he was “delighted” the school had gained planning consent.
He added: “This new coeducational school for students aged 11 to 18 will offer a world-class, progressive education that is forward-thinking and outward-looking.”
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