sharing news and views from Crouch End and Hornsey
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:
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
I thought this an excellent question and would have been interested to see a response. It would seem that it simply has not been established that there would be the demand to fill a 2 form entry school at that location. For if there was evidence of this surely it would have been provided by now? I have an open mind on the matter (apart form the nonsense of trying to retain the building) but I cant see how a shortage of places, in say, central Muswell Hill would be helped.
I leave it to others to decide whether or not my message reads as condescending; it was certainly not intended to be.
However I am also accused by Francis of misrepresentation by, it is implied. asserting that it was, at some point in the past, "ASAG's position that the only solution is for the school building to be kept."
However in what I wrote yesterday, visible above, I made the different claim that ASAG had supported the view that the BEST course of action involves the preservation of the building, NOT that ASAG had said that was the ONLY course of action. For example ASAG wrote to the Mayor of London objecting to the school move on the 12 June 2009 as follows:-
"The refurbishment of the old school has been examined, and dismissed by LBI. We would take issue with that assessment. We believe that the most logical and economical option would be to refurbish. Moreover, the old school is regarded as architecturally significant, and enjoys local listing."
And it was that sort of thing which lead me to have the impression that ASAG thought refurbishment the best option; if three years on ASAG have changed their views then I repeat I welcome this change of mind.
Some relevant press coverage on this url:-
You will note from it that ASAG as represented by Francis Wilkinson are still urging that the Ashmount building be refurbished. This seems to be both a real mistake on their part -but I will not further labour THAT point -and to indicate that there cannot have been much direct contact between ASAG and potential educational users, as the current building is the problem with the site, and any scheme that requires its retention would be in danger of saddling the new user with a white elephant.....
Despite a private resolution not to respond further, here goes one more time
- Don't rely on the Tribune to get the facts right, please! ASAG's position on refurbishment is as stated above, namely that it is one of the options.
- There has been quite a bit of contact between ASAG and potential educational users, including site visits. LBI refused to allow photography inside the school, which was intended to help marketing to potential educational users. Perhaps David Barry would like to help with that by saying that he would have no objection to such photography?
- A central problem for those interested in the site is the refusal of LBI to provide the valuation of the School site last October which was done for the purpose of marketing. But LBI's marketing means only to their preferred providers of affordable housing, not to potential educational users who have been refused any information about the valuation. Again, perhaps David Barry could help by obtaining or (if he has it) providing that valuation?
Three points here which need separate responses which I will give as time allows -
First the Tribune has its facts wrong. Gosh you ARE unfortunate. You complain that I misrepresent you, then the Tribune misrepresents you in identical fashion, and then earlier on it seems that ASAG misrepresented itself when it wrote to the Mayor of London.. No doubt, at the very least, you will have been in contact with the Tribune to correct them on this point...
"There has been quite a bit of contact between ASAG and potential educational users, including site visits"
It would greatly strengthen your case if you could give more details of this, like a list of people who have expressed interest. The reference to"site visits' intrigues as I am only aware of one, and you would expect the school to know of them...
It was from an interesting organisation "Marathon Science School" There was no indication that having seen the building whether their interest was affected -in either direction.
"LBI refused to allow photography inside the school, which was intended to help marketing to potential educational users. Perhaps David Barry would like to help with that by saying that he would have no objection to such photography?"
This is a different case from site visits. The school has always said that people who wish to see the building, may, with appropriate notice. We found that this policy of openness and transparency was the easiest way to counter the argument that there was really nothing wrong with the building that a low cost refurb could not fix. If you think THAT come and see for yourself....
However cooperating with a third party (ASAG) in marketing the site would be a very strange thing for us to do. As a Community School, we neither own the site nor the buildings. They belong to LBI. LBI as the owner, will after we leave, decide what to do with the site, which could include sale. But it is not ours to sell, nor do we get any benefit from a possible sale. It is entirely a matter for LBI, acting within the law, to decide whether to sell, how to sell, how to market.
It would be quite wrong for us to cooperate with any third part marketing initiatives that were not being taken with the full knowledge and consent of LBI.
It would be like a tenant helping an estate agent to market their flat without the consent of the owner and landlord!
The site cannot be put on the market until the council either gets permission from Michael Gove to sell it for housing, or the permission is refused in which case it could only be sold for educational use. I would expect the council officers will as part of the Council's plans to use the site for Social Housing have made an internal valuation -an educated guess really - as to what the sites value would be if it it were sold on the open market for housing, then no doubt they would plan to sell it at a discount to a Housing Association. this valuation would still need to be tested on the market and the process of selling the site for housing would have to be open and transparent, subject to Freedom of Information and so forth. And obviously if such a valuation exists I would not know what it was, as despite Francis Wilkenson's repeated insinuations I am not part of the council, or for that matter of a Liberal Democrat conspiracy, although as Islington now Labour controlled, that last allegation does not seem to be made anymore.
if Michael Gove were to refuse permission then any internal indicative valuation for sale for housing would be irrelevant as it would be a totally different market. In fact I believe that in the event of Gove refusing permission so that the site can only be sold for education, and the requirement for the building to be retained enforced, as it seems ASAG want, will result in the site lying derelict for years as I cannot imagine any educational user, once they have done "due diligence' on what would be involved touching it with a barge pole..
And that completes my answers to Francis Wilkenson's questions.
For completeness here is the url for the relevant ASAD page; you will see that it does put forward more than one option; three in fact, but two of them entail retaining the building -the third does not mention the buidling. I would contend that it makes two out of the three options impracticable.
The meeting of Islington's executive to consider the planning brief for the Ashmount Site is tonight. Oddly although there are stakeholder submissions from various bodies ASAG has not made one. Seems a strange omission to hold public meetings, brief the press, post message here (even) but then not actually put in a submission to the meeting that makes the decision. Oh, well. The mystery about what they actually want continues.
In the event it seems that I did ASAG a disservice, instead of making a submission in advance they attended the meeting and got permission to hand in a petition of over a thousand signatures which they had got people to sign saying that they favoured the site being retained for education purposes. What happened got press coverage, in the Islington Tribune, thus:-
The person who addressed the meeting was Francis Wilkinson. (After the meeting I had emails from a couple of people who had been there telling me that for some reason Francis had chosen to attack the quality of education being provided by Ashmount. I found this baffling because I could not see how the performance of the current school, which is in any case has been attested to by OFSTED for some time as "Good" had any relevance to what happened to the site after it left. as it happens, despite Francis having been understood by a number of people present, including the reporters from two separate newspapers, to be making an attack on the schools standards, this has since been denied by ASAG. They say that on the contrary they were complimenting the school. Obviously some division of opinion here.)