By Zoe Jewell, Editor
A popular Brixton primary school could benefit from a £4.7million expansion, creating 315 new places.
Sudbourne Primary, Hayter Road, could take over an additional site, between the current school and Acre Lane, under plans put forward by Lambeth council.
This would involve creating seven extra classrooms, as well as expanding kitchens, halls and libraries to cater for twice as many children at the school.
Cllr Pete Robbins, Lambeth cabinet member for children, said that despite attempts to create more pupil places, “even in Brixton applications have risen by 27 per cent in the last four years. We know that in a few years, demand will greatly exceed the number of places available.”
Last year, Sudbourne had 315 applications for just 45 places in its reception form.
The council is hoping to negotiate a land swap with Genesis Housing, who won planning permission to build on the Acre Lane site in September 2011. Genesis Housing put in applications for a mixed-use residential scheme on Acre Lane in both 2007 and 2010. Both of these were rejected, but last year the housing association won an appeal to demolish existing warehouses and erect a three-storey with a block of 21 flats, as well as a terrace of seven houses to be accessed from Sudbourne Road.
Lambeth Council now hope to persuade Genesis Housing to swap this site with one on Mandrell Road, about to be vacated by The Livity School .
The Livity, a special needs primary school, is moving to a new purpose-built campus off Leigham Court Rd, Streatham.
Sudbourne parent Theresa Watkins, of Mervan Rd, commented on the Sudbourne expansion: “This is a really good school but it only takes in 45 children a year – that’s one and a half forms. And so many want to have a place here. If it could be two-form entry, that would be really good.”
Another parent, who did not want to be named, said: “I don’t think it’s a good idea. The school has a unique character based on it being a small school and you’ll end up with two different institutions. The good thing about the school at the moment is that all the kids know each other. But if there is a shortage of places in Lambeth, I guess you have to be pragmatic as well.”
Sudbourne school support the proposal from the council.
Headteacher Milan Stevanovic said: “Potentially we would have to have the younger children on one site and older children on the other.
“I think there would still be that intimacy the school has now, especially if the buildings were very close together.”
Mr Stevanovic added that there is concern among some parents that property prices in the area would fall if the standards of the school were to suffer.
Lambeth council is also looking at expansion of other popular schools such as Loughborough, Jubilee and St John’s in Brixton, but budget constraints have put these under question. Cllr Robbins said: “We need about £50m over the next few years, but we have been given just £12m.”
More information on Lambeth’s proposals for education in the borough can be found in this presentation given at the Cabinet meeting in December 2011.