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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: 1312

Replies to This Discussion

Moving away from educational use
The council's attitude to the question as to whether or not the site should be declared surplus to educational requirements seems to be that this is so self evidently the case, as the site is being vacated by a school which is not moving far, that they do not really have to bother making the argument. Consequently so far as I am aware, no good information has been made available regarding projections of demand in the local area. Some figures have been published relating to the local wards in Islington which, indeed, do suggest that in a few years time demand will essentially equal supply. However at the moment, so far as Islington are concerned there is a surplus of places and no doubt that colours  their attitude.
 It seems to me that a proper cross border study of future demand needs to be done, and in that context the question of how it is to be satisfied discussed. If demand is going to exceed supply the next question is whether or not  retention of the Ashmount site would be the best way of doing it rather than, for example, expanding Hargrave Park School from one form entry.

Future of the Building
One of the oddest aspects of the whole business is the way in which ASAG and now, it seems the Highgate Society, want to insist both that the site be used for educational purposes AND that the current building be preserved. Based on all the studies that have been done it seems obvious to me that the unsuitability of the building as it stands is established, with the bill for stopping it from falling down in the next few years in the millions. I cannot see why any educational institution would want to buy the site unless they could get permission to demolish (in which case it is a very good and desirable site.). So while ASAG and the Highgate Society believe that the alleged excellence of the building is a major argument for retaining the site in educational use, it is the difficulty in getting permission to demolish that makes it basically unusable for educational purposes. I should not really complain as the original plan considered for the school was a phased demolition and rebuild on site (to include housing to pay for it). When Crouch Hill became available the options we had were then to either demolish and rebuild on site or to use the old recreation centre footprint on MOL. In the event Islington Officers took the view that it would, on balance, be easier to get permission to replace a building of no architectural merit on MOL than it would be to demolish Ashmount. Subsequently one of the arguments deployed to get permission from the Mayor of London was the difficulty of using the current site nicely demonstrated by all the forcefull lobbying to the effect that the current building is a work of genius and must not be touched. 
This does slightly raise the question as to what the actual fate of the building will be if permission is granted to end educational use. The cynical answer would be that a few years neglect will finish it off,  We currently have a continious maintainance  programme to keep it safe for the children in our care... Once that stops and the place unoccupied... It will I suppose, eventually become a hazardous structure. However no doubt permission to demolish would be sought quickly by any housing association that gets the site. In which case while we, a school, probably could not get permission because we are a school, they probably will because they are not.
Isn't planning law wonderful?

Well this years offers are just out (for Primary School places) anyone have any news about what is happening?

Well I have some news.

Not authoritative or "official' More like reasonably well informed gossip. (So perfect for Opinion8 )

Officers at Islington tell me informally that everyone who applied for a place at a primary school in Islington this year got one; apart from 6 or 7 late applicants which will have to be dealt with separately. Of course this does not mean that everyone got their first preference, or even one of the schools they applied for (I know of one resident in Tufnell park who did not get any of their six preferences -schools in Islington and Camden -and was upset to be offered a place at a school a tube ride away. They will have to put their faith in waiting lists I fear. But then there will probably be a lot of movement on waiting lists.

I have heard that not everyone in Muswell Hill got a place despite the expansions of Tetherdown, and Rhodes Avenue's  more recent increase in intake. This may even have gone so far as to amount to the opening up of new admissions 'black holes" in Muswell Hill. The new Jewish Free School was hugely oversubscribed it seems.

I dont know anything about Crouch End yet. Surely someone on here..?

(Ashmounts catchment covered Crouch End last year and is oversubscribed again this year but I do not know the radius yet.)

I was chatting to a teacher at Weston Park in a parent/baby class at Park Road Pool today (not sure quite where that comes in the gossip to informed comment continuum) who told me that Weston Park is getting a bulge class in September so doubling the intake to 60. Coleridge had less siblings this year (last year over half the 120 intake were siblings) so more successful first children so possibly teh catchment is a bit wider but still about x5 over subscribed.

I was really interested to see this; I wonder does this mean that there is a new "black hole" opening up in central Crouch End, (Which, this year, a bulge class of 30 at Weston Park would fix)? or is it just  a case that Weston Park happens to be a possible site for a bulge class? (The expanded Coleridge and Rokesly would not be able, I imagine), but still worth adding the numbers as it might have a knock on in the direction of Muswell Hill. Does anyone know when the figures get published? There is a really interesting website about this but of course it is still based on last years figures. Find it here:-

Catchment areas for schools around Crouch End

(as for Autumn 2011)

The bulge class at Weston Park is confirmed by the way; a notice went up on their school website on the 11 May 2012. But Opinion8 had it first.....

and here is the information about the other bulge classes:-

Earlsmead Primary School 30

Triangle Children’s Centre 30

Bounds Green 30

I lack the local knowledge to know whether any of these have an impact in N8.

I presume the main effect of the Weston Park bulge will have been to clear its waiting list. if the children on that waiting list were also on the waiting list for Rokesely and Coleridge some movement may have taken place.

Regarding Ashmount, apart from knowing we are, as usual, over subscribed we do not know our admission radius yet, or where applicants are from. we do know that some people refused places are appealing.

It would take too long to correct David Barry's historical account, but it is just worth emphasising that ASAG's view is not that Ashmount School's existing building needs to be preserved, but that that is one of the options.  ASAG has members with a variety of views on this subject.

"it would take too long to correct" is merely assertion not argument. If you have "corrections" make them, and let discussion be joined if appropriate. Writing that I am wrong, but not saying how I am wrong does not advance things very far.

I am interested to hear that ASAG no longer supports the view that the best course of action involves the preservation of the building. Downgrading your position on this from the only acceptable solution to the problem of what to do with the building being to refurbish, to it being "one of the options" is a significant advance in your thinking for which you should be commended.

It was always the difficulty of getting a satisfactory refurb that was a core driver of the project from the school's point of view as it led the Governing Body to the position that the only satisfactory solutions for the school were either a demolish and rebuild on site or to move to another site.

Oh dear - more misrepresentation.  It has never been ASAG's position that the only solution is for the school building to be kept.  The condescending tone of David Barry's response does not encourage further communication.

From a purely Crouch End perspective I'm not sure another school on the same site is going to solve the problem of the people who are currently stuck in the zone between the catchments of the existing West Haringey community schools in CEnd. It is inaccessible by public transport from central crouch end unless you go the scenic route of the W5. The walk is a long one for anyone at the bottom of the hills. As a parent of young children a major factor in my choice was the ability to walk a 5 yr old to school without it taking an age. Are there really enough additional pupils to fill a 2 form entry primary which would inevitably end up a free school or academy given the DoE attitude? Is that what people actually want?


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