Resistance to Old Vicarage plans intensifies
Proposed new school faces fierce opposition from local residents
A group of Grove Park residents opposed to the plans to change the Old Vicarage in to a private school held a public meeting last Friday 7th October 2005.
The meeting, which took place in St Michael's Church Hall on Elmwood Rood, was attended by over 100 local residents in addition to three Chiswick Councillors Paul Lynch, Felicity Barwood and Robert Kinghorn.
Those in attendance received an update on developments and were told that the Borough Planning Office had received 103 written objections and 15 from those in favour of the new school during the official consultation period.
Over a dozen residents spoke against the proposals arguing that the site, at Elmwood Road and Sutton Lane South, was totally inappropriate and would make the already overcrowded streets even more so. “It’s a miracle no one has yet been killed,” one resident said. "It’s only a matter of time.”
The application for change of usage was submitted by Dynamite Educational Publishers, trading as Tic Toc Day Nursery and Heathfield House School. A representative from Heathfield House conceded that because the Old Vicarage's grounds are so small, children would be given outside playtime on a continuous and staggered basis. According to a campaigner against the school, their statement led one resident, who lives between the existing Falcons School and the proposed facility, to complain about the noise he and his neighbours would be subjected to should the application be approved. This view was apparently echoed by the Old Vicarage's next door neighbour who works from home and fears he wouldn’t “be able to hear myself think all day. It's mad!”
One supporter of the school suggested that the applicant was willing to cut the numbers of students from 120 to 75 to pacify the community, but others contended this claiming that a school of any size was unacceptable on safety and parking considerations. The loss of The Old Vicarage as a distinctive family residence was another major concern expressed by a number of locals. However, in the seven months that the house was on the market with a local agent, Dynamite Educational Publishers were the only people to make an offer.
Councillors Paul Lynch, Felicity Barwood and Robert Kinghorn took questions and outlined the formal decision making process. The meeting ended with a show of hands where six supported the application, with the remainder of the 100 strong meeting solidly against it.
Heathfield House are yet to respond to our request for comment.
October 14, 2005