OpinioN8

Connecting Crouch End and Hornsey with news, views and information

School Places / Residential Development / Cross Border Co-operation / Ashmount School

This map shows the site of the old Ashmount School in N19, which is just in Islington, but whose catchent area includes some Haringey Streets. The School is moving soon to a new site just off the Parkland Walk where the same cross border catchment will apply. I don't know the school but I wish it every success in its move and what looks like a splendid new location.

The move will leave a vacant site in a leafy residential street. Perhaps the obvious thing to do with it is to sell it to a property developer and allow the previous owners (Isilington, I assume) to profit from the huge demand for residential development in this part of London. Such a move would have implications.

Lyn Weber has published on her blog a number of dated pieces setting out the development of the planning brief for the site and for any one interested in this sort of thing its a worthwhile read. Haringey Council is one of the participants in consultation on the planning brief and has a couple of interesting things to say.  For instance:

"Any redevelopment of the site for residential will result in a child yield which, in turn, will lead to an increased demand for school places in the local area"

Now 'child yield' is not some Dahl-ian concept based on the behaviour of witches or ogres, it simply means that some children will live in the houses. Haringey's concern is that some of these children will apply for admission  to Haringey schools.

Also, from the same Haringey document:

 "Islington’s projections show that, by 2016, surplus capacity [for primary schools]  in the area will have decreased to less than 0%"

I draw severl quite positive inferences from this:

1) Lyn is keeping an eye on things

2) Haringey and Islington are sharing information, which might imply joined up thinking

3) Haringey does consider the pressure on school places to be a relevant factor when considering proposed developments

For any one with an active interest there is an Ashmount Site Action Group (ASAG) which also playing a part in the development of the planning brief and the disposal of the site

Tags: Ashmount School, Residential Development, School Places

Views: 1242

Replies to This Discussion

Its worth making the point that the border between the two boroughs runs down the centre of Hornsey lane, so "joined up thinking" if it could be achieved would make a lot of sense in this case.  The boundary between Islington and Haringey is often an unexpected shape. So the new site for the school is both closer to Crouch End and further away from the border with Haringey......

Also the map showing the location of the current school site is inaccurate in two respects. First of all the Ashmount site is at the corner of Hornsey Lane and Ashmount Road, which really does put it on the border. Houses on Gresley Road, (where the ASAG people live),  have long back gardens which back directly on to Ashmount School playground, but access to the school is from Hornsey lane, where the main entrance is. Second, the location for St Aloysius is quite wrong as it looks as if it shares the Ashmount site, St Aloysius is just up the road on the west side of the A1, that is just over the Archway bridge. I dont know how one corrects a google map.

On a more positive note, to the far east (or left) of the map the "Crouch Hill Recreation Centre" is clearly marked. It is on that site that the new school building is being put up, so it is easy to see the relationship between the two sites.

Corrections to google maps - almost certainly not worth attempting in this case

I bow, as in so much else, to your superior judgement on this...

I wouldn't like it to be thought that ASAG represents people who live in Gresley Road.  I don't and I chair ASAG, and it would be difficult to fit into Gresley Road the 600+ people who have signed the petition to keep the site in educational use !

The statistics in terms of Projected Admission Numbers of 4 year olds this year and the next 7 years in this school area and the surrounding school areas show a deficit of 420 places - the deficit starts in September 2012 and is cumulative.  This is the size of a normal primary school, slightly larger than the places available in Ashmount School in its current building.  It would be mad to dispose of a school site in these circumstances, particularly when LB Islington after a thorough search was unable to find any other suitable site locally for a school. 

And St Aloysius in Hornsey Lane is already having to teach classes in the Methodist Hall at Archway, half a mile away from their school.

Actually Ashmount is a two form entry school, which indeed is the normal size for a primary school, and so the number of places available in all years is 420. - a minor detail. The figures you quote for projected demand are interesting. Can you give their source? and what exactly do you mean by surrounding 'school areas'?

(I asked about the "school areas" because the geographical shape matters particularly because of the Borough Boundary which means that an area that might naturally be seen as one, will be two. Its the "joined up thinking" problem again.

If David Barry would like to come to the ASAG meeting tomorrow he will get the answers

So no answers then

A pity.

Well I have now been given a copy of Mr Wilkenson's figures which he gave out at the meeting by someone who was there. (attendence about 30 people)

It turns out that the "surrounding school areas" included the London Borough of Camden's planning areas 2 and 3. These consist of:-

PA2 (Highgate, Gospel Oak, Kentish Town)

PA3 (Swiss Cottage, Belsize, Haverstock, Camden Town with Primrose Hill, Cantelowes)

So any conclusions he draws are meaningless really. And the conclusion I draw is that this is not a sensible way to hold a debate on a really important matter...

It occurred to me that it might be helpful if I were in the spirit of being constructive copy part of an email I wrote to someone who was asking me about the future of the  Ashmount Site.

Please note:-
1. The school has no position on what happens to the site after it moves.
 2. Regard what I write  now as a purely personal opinion, albeit a rather well informed one (This is not a boast. Just a rather weary recognition of reality after all these years being involved in these issues) 
3. I am chair of Governors at Ashmount which is why I need to stress that this is written in a personal capacity.
What the Council want to do
 Islington are determined, on the basis of a manifesto promise,  to build extra social housing, and they are very short of sites. Elsewhere in the borough they are proposing infill building on council estates, including it seems on a sports pitch, to the horror of the relevant council tenants... As Islington's determination is a matter of political reality any other possibility would seem not likely to be achieved. This contributes to a feeling of "steamroller" about the whole operation.

How they are doing it
Presumably to save time (and perhaps some money) in their eagerness to get to the end result - a council estate on the former Ashmount site -they have (in my view, unhelpfully) concatenated three processes; getting permission to cease to use the site for educational purposes, getting permission to sell the playground area within the school site, and issuing a draft planning brief which really only makes sense on the basis that the first two permissions have been granted. I have no idea whether this prematurity increases the risk of a legal challenge to the planning brief process but I do know that in practical terms it hopelessly confuses the issue. Clearly what there should have been is a clear separate argument as to whether the site should be retained for education or not. Then, if this were to be resolved in favour of allowing change of use and disposal, with the relevant permissions from the Secretary of State the planning brief process could have been started. 

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