Register your objection to the planning application for the New School at Lewisham Bridge

The planning application is now available to the General Public for comments and objections. We think that the plans reveal how little Lewisham Council think of our kids. 


The play space is inadequate for all ages!

It is not clear how facilities such as the ICT suite and the music room can be shared amongst so many children of differing age groups!

The provision of well-being for children os of poor standard.


You can use the text below to form your objection letter. 

Send your objection letter to:

Emma Talbot

Lewisham Planning Service

Laurence House

A Catford Road

London SE6 4SW

The ref. no. you must quote is: DC/09/70671


1.     The scheme fails to address Lewisham’s need for school places.

·       There is an overall loss of primary school places, when the plans for the immediate area envisage an increase in children of primary school age. Lewisham Council should not therefore be reducing places without a plan of where children who do not get a place there are to go.

·       It is assumed that all children attending the school will live within 1km radius of the site (Design and Access Statement p.29). However, there is no assessment provided to demonstrate that this is in fact the case, nor that local children would choose the new school, nor that the new trust running the school would operate such a selection policy. The current shortfall in secondary places for 11 year olds is 232 for 2008/9. Developments planned for the immediate area will have a ‘child yield’ of 95 children over 11, and there are increasing numbers to be expected from the developments in Catford and Lee High Road. The new school proposed here will provide 120 places for 11 year olds, meaning that the new school does not substantially address Lewisham’s secondary school needs, while, in the context of all the new developments planned, it creates pressure on primary places.


The Loampit Vale planning application “Heath Impact Assessment” states (5.3.10):

“Demand for local school places at both a primary and secondary school level will rise as a consequence of the proposed development. The requirements of Loampit Vale are greater than the forecast surplus of local primary school places and will increase demand for places at the secondary level. In addition, the cumulative impact of the adjacent developments will increase the demand for places in local schools further”.


2.     Provision for the health and well-being  of the children is of a poor standard

·       The phasing of the construction shows that younger children will be on site while further work is undertaken (Transport Assessment 2.4.7). There is no plan provided for the management of young children on what will effectively be a construction site for two years. No assessment has been made of the levels of noise and dust for the second stage of construction.

·       The plans do not use the data in planning applications for Loampit Vale and Lewisham Gateway to assess the impact these will have on wind, sunlight, daylight, noise and pollution. However, there is cause for concern, for instance the BREEAM report (HW1) indicates that daylighting targets for schools will not be reached in the submitted designs. The levels of pollution which could be experienced by the school are not specifically addressed in the plans. The school is in an Air Quality Management Zone and Lewisham Gateway increases some pollutants by up to 5% and the Loampit Vale development by a further 2%.

·       The BREEAM report shows that the school will meet only 10 out of the 18 credits for health and well-being, and this figure is mainly achieved on the basis of the plans providing policies. Credits missed include that for ensuring air intakes serving occupied areas avoid major sources of external pollution and recirculation of exhaust air (HW9); thermal zoning (HW15); acoustic criteria (HW17); and the provision of mains-fed drinking water dispensers (HW24).

·       The play areas are extremely cramped and will require high levels of supervision and control. For instance, the play area for KS2 has maximum dimensions of 28m by 13m that is slightly smaller than an international netball court – for 120 children. (Because there is one dining room, with seats for 168 children, it is to be assumed that the younger children will have one sitting and therefore all KS2 children will be using the space at the same time. ) The younger children have no direct access to kick around areas or the netball court and must share much coveted stage space with older children. Although the nature reserve was under-used by the current primary school, it provided greenery and had the potential to be a wonderful resource. Overall, the constrained play space compares very unfavourably with the existing primary provision.

·       Secondary school provision is also poor and no mention is made of travel to playing fields. The very fact that this issue is not addressed in the main plans is worrying.


3.     There is no proof given that 800 children can successfully share the facilities.

·       No indication is provided of how the shared use of facilities such as play areas, sports and dining areas can actually work once the school is fully operational, given the range of ages involved and the cramped nature of the site. For instance, there is one music suite, and one sports hall (with one marked out pitch) to be shared among 27 classes (excluding nursery children). There is one ICT suite (combined with a Learning Resources Centre) for the whole school, while the current primary school already has such a suite just for the primary school. The play areas are cramped and close to each other.


·       It appears essential that the planners submit a proposed timetable for the use of the shared resources so that the planning committee, the parents and teachers at the current school and the general public can be persuaded that the plan would work in practice.


4.     The Transport Assessment submitted for the application is incomplete.

·       While it is assumed that children will live within 1km of the site, there is no concrete assessment of the likely catchment area of the secondary school (see section 1 above). There is no assessment of the impact on transport of local people who cannot get into the primary/nursery school and must therefore travel more.  Until these assessments are done the Transport Assessment is a work of fiction and wishful thinking.

·       The one assessment that is made, of the impact of extra traffic along Elmira and turning onto Loampit Vale (Transport Assessment 7.1) is inaccurate in its layout and fails to look also at the impact of these cars on the proposed new key junctions at Jerrard Street and Thurston Road.

·       The other plans for the area will put a huge strain on public transport, but none of the models for these plans (Lewisham Gateway, Loampit Vale, Thurston Road) included an additional 600 secondary school children travelling on the buses, trains, cycling and walking. (Even walking could be a problem because some of the key pavements around the Gateway are already described as being so crowded as to be ‘uncomfortable’.)

·       The extra provision of cycling spaces is to be welcomed, but the maps for cycle routes in the area are out of date because they are not based on the plans submitted for the Gateway and Loampit Vale developments. The existing plans for the new Lewisham Gateway provide no cycle paths round a very large, complex and busy roundabout – the Low-H system. The absence of provision for cyclists in the Gateway has been questioned by many local groups: to expect children to negotiate such a crossing is unrealistic.

·       The maps for bus stops is also out of date because the Gateway will replace the current stop near the school on Loampit Vale.

·       No account has been taken of the increased traffic and congestion as a result of coaches taking children to the playing fields. (The adequacy of playing fields is not addressed at all, the site of playing fields is not mentioned.)  It is most unlikely that coach parking can be provided on Loampit Vale because the Lewisham Gateway plans will remove the bus stop on the south side by the bridge and to insert a coach stop could have destabilizing effects on traffic flows around the Low H. The Transport Assessment contains the curious, and unsubstantiated assertion that:

“provision has been made within the proposed Prendergast Vale School development to ensure that there is sufficient space within the school grounds for turning coaches entering via Elmira Street”. The only possible space would mean many coaches presumably going past the nursery and science garden areas.

·       These considerations give rise to the strong possibility that coaches will be regularly using the local streets (Ellerdale, Algernon) or turning round in Elmira. Models for this should all be fed into the Transport Assessment for it to be complete and a serious piece of work.


5.      Loss of architectural heritage

         The plans involve the demolition of one of the few remaining historical buildings in the area       and no consideration has been given to incorporating our heritage into the new design. The       application itself notes that the existing school building contributes positively to the urban       landscape, particularly where it defines the western edge of Cornmill Gardens” Many       organisations propose that the retention of old schools has many positive educational       benefits, including the very generous space provisions which modern regulations ignore.


6.     Loss of trees, habitat and the nature reserve

The plans involve the loss of trees and a nature reserve, as well as possible loss of bat habitat. The science garden is in a very curious place: the plans for the Loampit Vale development would indicate that the area would be very shaded.


7.     Value for money

There are no costings provided for the scheme. Further along Loampit Vale is a very well-equipped FE College with plans to move to a site in Deptford. Would it not make more sense to convert that to a secondary school – with capacity to really provide for the secondary needs of Lewisham, and keep Lewisham Bridge. It has become a successful school and has very pleasant facilities – including an IT suite, nature reserve  and large, well-equipped playground. Lewisham Council should have costed this alternative which would be much less disruptive for existing children at Lewisham Bridge and really address Lewisham’s future needs.