Thursday, March 18, 2010

Gordonbrock Decant - delayed

I found out today that the decant and rebuilding programme for Gordonbrock School has been delayed by six months due to a legal challenge by Brockley Society. I heard from Council officers on Tuesday evening that a delay was likely, and letters were sent home to parents yesterday confirming this. I understand that Council officers and Brockley Society representatives will be meeting next week to discuss the legal challenge, and hopefully more will become clear after that. There will also be a meeting for parents at the school soon, date tbc.

I don't know the details, but my understanding is that the challenge is to do with whether or not the Council carried out an environmental impact assessment as part of the planning process.

At this stage I've got a lot more questions than I have answers, and am keen to get more information from officers as soon as possible, particularly about what the financial implications of this latest delay will be. While I've been quite vocal in my criticism of aspects of the planning application, in particular the appearance of the new building, I worked constructively with officers to secure some (modest) improvements to it, and was clear that the latest application was an improvement on the 2005 application in a number of ways. I am concerned that this latest delay may jeopardise the funding, and while I think the current plans are far from perfect, they are far better than no improvements at all. It would be awful for the school to once again lose the funding, as happened 5 years ago.

In addition to the legal challenge, Brockley Society have published a feasibility study suggesting an alternative way of refurbishing the existing buildings, without demolishing any of them, but still increasing capacity to three form entry, creating larger classrooms, a large assembly hall etc. The document, looks professionally produced and clearly the society have put a lot of time and effort into it, but comes very late in the day, just a few weeks before the decant was scheduled to start. I've asked officers for their views on the viability of what is proposed in it, and what the financial implications would be.

I hope to be able to be able to post more information soon, when I have it. In the meantime I've set up a straw poll on the site to gauge readers' opinions. If the options I've given don't cover your view, please use the comments section of this post to share them.


St. Anthony said...

The point is that I wanted my child to attend a local primary school, one I can walk her to and get to quickly in an emergency... not one miles away in Lower Sydenham. It's not very green is it, having to bus every child there? How ironic that a Green Party candidate is supporting this venture.
And no real democratic debate has taken place, just a lot of double-talk and evasion from the school, the board of governors and Lewisham Council.

Anonymous said...

Of course I support the principle of children going to schools within walking distance of where they live, and I recognise that decants are disruptive and inconvenient, but they are sometimes necessary to enable extensive refurbishment/rebuilding projects to take place.

Unknown said...

Can anyone explain the benefits of holding a meeting tomorrow evening at Gordonbrock school prior to Friday's meeting with senior council figures, Gordonbrock head (Sue Blyth) and head of governors, along with Brockley Society. Am I alone in thinking this meeting is pointless and only serves to further fuel the anger of those parents opposed to Brockley Society's alternative proposals. Surely a meeting next week would be better, once decisions have been made?

Anonymous said...

I think parents would be angry either way - if the officers met with Broc Soc this week and not with parents until next week, there would also be outrage and the feeling that people were being kept in the dark.

At least after tomorrow's mtg, officers should be able to go to the mtg with Broc Soc with a better idea of parents' views, and parents will have an idea of what the point of the Broc Soc mtg is.

Unknown said...

Sue, thanks for your answer but I can't help but disagree. School head Sue Blyth was happy to send a letter out to parents mocking the Broc Soc plans, yet Broc Soc had no equal forum to answer back and deflect the many inaccuracies contained in the letter. So, instead of a passionate but calm and open debate, I unfortunately suspect the most vocal and angry parents, not in possession of all the facts, will dominate proceedings. This will not be conducive to moving the debate - and the refurb plans - further.

Unknown said...

Sue, just wondered if you have you been invited along to the school meeting tonight? I know Broc Soc haven't been invited making it very difficult to present their point of view and the merits of their alternative proposal! Incidentally, I know some supporters of Broc Soc will not be attending tonight because of the levels of intimidation they have experienced at the school gates, and via emails/texts. They also don't believe their viewpoint will get a fair hearing. Doesn't seem right to me. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Penny - I don't think the point of this evening's meeting is to debate the merits or otherwise of Broc Soc's proposals, it's to update parents on what's happened and to give them a chance to ask any questions they may have to Council officers. If Broc Soc want to organise a public meeting to discuss with people their proposals then of course they are free to do that, but that's really not the purpose of tonight's meeting.

Susie Loverseed said...


I do echo Penny's point about people who are pleased about the Broc Socs proposals not being able to have a voice any more due to some pretty aggressive campaining.

If parents views are really going to be taken into account it shouldn't be the petition that many people were pretty much press ganged into signing. This is slightly off topic I know but I do feel that some very vocal parents seem to think they have the right to speak for everyone and I do hope decisions won't be based on that.

Ms Dove said...

Dear Thompson and Penny

Brockley Society are in charge. They've forced Lewisham Council to stop the build.

Brockley Society have kept their people anonymous.

So how can school petitioners intimidate the anonymous Broc Soc campaigners?

Please act democratically and meet with the Gordonbrock parents. The parents were dignified at the Council/school meeting and would be at a Broc Soc one.