Arrangements for Brent Lea Approved
125 year lease would have to be personally signed off by Cllr Steve Curran
On Tuesday Hounslow Council Cabinet meeting agreed arrangements for Floreat's temporary two year primary school and also paved the way for a permanent school.
Brentford is desperate for a new secondary school as well as a primary school, although some argue that the need for a primary school is not so urgent that plans needed to be rushed through for this September.
Floreat have gained permission to set up a primary free school locally from the Department of Education. The system of creating free schools heavily promoted by both the current government and its predecessor remains controversial as local authorities have very little say in their creation despite having a statutory obligation to ensure enough school places in the borough.
Hounslow Council have worked closely with Floreat in support of their application to start a much needed school and to find them a suitable site. The location for a school only has to be determined after the approval for a new free school has been granted.
The Cabinet meeting started off by approving the closure of Heston House, a residential care home for almost 40 residents, much to the disappointment and anger of relatives and supporters of the home. Some 20 people remained to witness the discussion over Brent Lea, including Brentford ward Green party candidate Diane Scott, Brent Lea campaigning resident Jo Russell, Denis Browne Chair of Planning Committee of Brentford Community Council and Suzie Betlem President of Brentford Chamber of Commerce.
Leader of the Council and Syon ward councillor Steve Curran recommended the report which was seconded by Cllr Tom Bruce, lead member for Education. The report includes the draft Heads of Terms for Floreat Free School's temporary and permanent accommodation on Brent Lea recreation. Although these are draft terms, they controversially propose a short term lease for the temporary school and up to 125 years for the permanent site. The site would occupy about a third of the current recreation ground (1.2 acres) for a peppercorn rent and a £60,000 premium.
A spokesperson from Hounslow Council explained the peppercorn rent thus "Should planning consent be obtained for a permanent school, the EFA will fund the capital cost of building the two form entry primary Free School. This means that pupil places will be provided for the borough without the capital cost to the council of building a new school".
Jack Butcher, Brent Lea resident spoke out against using Brent Lea for a school, despite having a child of school age in September, saying he'd rather walk to Marlborough school and keep the recreation ground. He is one of three freeholders on Brent Lea estate who may well have to consent to a variation in the original covenant with the Duke of Northumberland that provided Brent Lea land back in 1961.
Hounslow council are in discussion with the Duke of Northumberland regarding the covenant and say that he has suggested that he will consent
All councillors discussed the free school policy and how difficult it made planning school locations and that the current administration has been working with potential free schools.
Cllr Katherine Dunne said that it's not ideal that the school is built on Brent Lea, followed by Syon's third councillor Theo Dennision who said "I have yet to find anyone who considers Brent Lea a good site", adding that the council has to work hard to find a better permanent site before a permanent application is submitted.
Cllr Curran promised to give detailed responses to all the questions raised by the public over preceeding weeks, reiterated the need to work with free schools as well as the other infrastructure that councils are no longer responsible for. He reminded us of the difficult balancing act councillors have to make on such decisions.
Clarification was received from Hounslow that the two versions of heads of terms, with the two year and 125 year lease are because "they need to be approved in order for the Education Funding Agency (EFA) to proceed with a bringing forward a planning application for a permanent school building on the site. The heads of terms are subject to the outcome of any planning application".
The recommendations were unanimously approved.
Brentford is in need of extra primary and secondary places, and existing schools have had extra classes added where possible.
Find the planning application by visiting planning search (agreeing T&Cs, and then selecting "search planning applications") and then entering 00707/AK/P1 in the box marked Planning number.
There was a public meeting on 28th May to discuss the temporary application.
Letters from Brentford Community Council to LBH on this issue.
The temporary application was approved at Planning Committee on 4th June (see both item 4 and the addendum report item 11). Cllr Elizabeth Hughes stated that she would have voted against it had the application been for a permanent building.
The agenda, decisions and minutes from Cabinet meeting on 16th June.
June 19, 2015