North Kingston school plans faces parents boycott
6:50am Monday 11th October 2010 in News
Controversial plans for a new school could be scuppered by a bid to have the building listed and the threat of a parent boycott.
North Kingston Centre houses adult education classes but is likely to be demolished to make way for an eight-form entry secondary school – set to open in September 2015.
The plans for the new school, about 500 yards from the borough boundary, has already attracted controversy. Richmond Council registered its opposition as it feels the propsed school would have an adverse effect on schools in Richmond.
Arguments about its size, location and whether the Church of England or Kingston Council should run it have also plagued its development.
Now nearby residents have applied to English Heritage to list the former Tiffin Girls’ School in a bid to prevent it being pulled down.
Parents at neighbouring Fern Hill Primary School also threatened to boycott the new school over fears it would take too many students.
Barbara Kerlsey-Jukes, who has two children at Fern Hill, said many parents were threatening not to send their children to the school.
She said: “My daughter would just be lost in a school that size. I have been talking to parents and a lot of us are against it.
“The site is all wrong. It’s clearly too small. What sports facilities would they have? It’s going to be a bit of a monster.”
Diane Smith, of Tudor Drive, Kingston, supported the bid for listed status.
She said: “I actually love the building and the area and the way it is – the 1930s architecture. It has the art deco frontage and a little window over the frontage.
“It’s about keeping the heritage. I just thought how can you keep something like that and I thought that’s the only way I could see to keep it.”
Christine Arnold, who attends adult education classes at the centre, also criticised the council for not finding an alternative location for adult education.
She said: “It’s a place for people to go and meet. I know so many elderly people who have had their health get better by going there. We all agree if it had not been there the NHS would have picked up the bill.”
English Heritage said older buildings with original fittings were more likely to be listed, but the final decision rests with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
Listed building consent is required before any listed building can be demolished, and because the centre is owned by the council this could only be granted by the Secretary of State.
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