Richmond Council has been consulting residents about a number of sites in the borough that are up for development. One of them is Cassel Hospital on Ham Common.
As a Governor of Latchmere School in North Kingston, which is already four-form entry and has to take a further ‘bulge’ class in 2014/5 to cope with the demand for school places in our two boroughs, I believe that North Kingston and Ham needs a whole new primary school. As well as the population growth that our area is having to cope with, there has been an influx of families seeking the excellent schools we have here. Plus, there’s all the new dwellings proposed for Latchmere House, the flats already being built on the river in North Kingston, the impending developments on the gas storage site at Sury Basin, the conversion of the Regal Bingo building that will all bring more and more families into our neighbourhood. Additionally, Ham Close is up for development, one of the options being to knock down the existing blocks of flats and rebuild them with twice as more dwellings on the site, so increasing the local population.
There is a possibility that a new primary school will be built to accompany the flats on Sury Basin, but these will only ‘mop up’ the children in the immediate vicinity and not the roads from Kings Road up towards the Tudor Estate. And, the new primary school near Sury Basin is not even definite as the developer is pushing for student flats instead.
Without a new two/three-form entry school in North Kingston/Ham we will hear more and more about distressed families whose children have missed out on school places, or have to travel long distances across the borough to go to other schools. The alternative is that Latchmere School becomes five-form entry throughout all years, and other schools have to expand from two/three to three/four-form entry. All of which will put pressure on resources, building space and hard-pressed playgrounds.
The Cassel Hospital building was assessed when St Edwards were considering setting up a Kingston Church School Foundation free school in the area (KET got their bid approved by the DfE to set up Kingston Academy in the North Kingston Centre so St Edwards pulled) and it was deemed a suitable site for a school. It has 20 acres of land around ideal for sports grounds and additional buildings if required. Also, it is easily accessible by foot, bicycle, public transport and car – although too many vehicles would cause problems on this road.
So, if you do one thing today, email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask Richmond Council to set aside Cassel Hospital for community purposes, and more specifically a primary school.