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Southwark Fire Station: secondary school and 200 homes approved

Plans to redevelop the former Southwark Fire Station - including a new secondary school and around 200 homes - have been approved by councillors.

Southwark Fire Station: secondary school and 200 homes approved

The scheme won the unanimous support of Southwark's planning committee on Tuesday night.

As well as the former fire station – which closed in 2014 – the site includes Winchester House, the residence of Sir Eyre Massey Shaw, first chief officer of the London Fire Brigade.

The then Mayor of London Boris Johnson forced the London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority to sell the site to developer Hadston in 2015 on the basis that a free school would be included in the redevelopment of the site.

In 2016 the Department for Education gave the green light to the Haberdashers' Aske's Borough Academy secondary school.

In recent months the scheme has been held up after Hadston put forward a planning application for around 200 homes with no affordable housing element.

After Mayor of London Sadiq Khan agreed to knock £12 million off Hadston's purchase price for the site, the company offered Southwark Council a payment of £13.857 million in lieu of affordable housing.

Introducing the application at Tuesday night's meeting, planning officer Yvonne Lewis described the "clear and urgent need for a new secondary school for north Southwark" and welcomed the "good reuse" of many of the existing buildings on the site.

Timothy Screech – who lives adjacent to the site – addressed the committee to object to the application, arguing that the proposed school is disproportionately large for the space available, and while a school is needed, the needs of the immediate community have not been considered by the developer.

Hadston's agent Sean Tickle of Rolfe Judd told councillors that the scheme represented a "once in a generation opportunity" for an "amazing new school" that also ensured continued use of an "iconic local landmark" building.

"We're really excited about opening a school in Southwark," Fred Sharrock of the Haberdashers' Aske's Federation told the committee, explaining that they could "just about" meet the timetable for opening the school in temporary accommodation in September 2019 before moving in to the permanent buildings at the end of 2020.

Questioned about the funding of the school element of the scheme, Hadston's Brian Fitzpatrick said that although there was a grant from the Government's Education and Skills Funding Agency, there was still a shortfall of £18 million on land and construction costs to be met by the developer.

The committee heard from nearby resident Paola Wilson who spoke in support of the planning application, emphasising the growing demand for secondary school places and pointing out that last year the 39 year 6 pupils at Charles Dickens Primary School moved on to 20 different secondary schools.

Cathedrals ward councillor David Noakes addressed the committee to welcome the work by Hadston and the Haberdashers' Aske's Federation to create the new school whilst warning that the scheme had been compromised by the economics of having to provide housing too.

He asked the committee to add conditions to the planning permission to protect the amenity of neighbouring residents on Great Guildford Street and Copperfield Street.

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