New plans for Old Vicarage

Revised school planning application sparks fresh round of objections

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A new application from Heathfield House School to covert The Old Vicarage into a private day school has sparked a fresh round of protests from local residents. The previous application was withdrawn amid objections against the increased traffic congestion and parking issues that would accompany a new school.

In response to these objections, Heathfield House School has now put forward their plan to reduce the number of children from 120 to 75 and enforce a 450m car exclusion zone around the Sutton Lane South site. Head Teacher Caroline Goodsman said “We read every letter that was sent to Hounslow Council and took on board residents' concerns. We then went back to the drawing board to produce new plans which, we believe, tackle the issues.”

A group of local residents however, remain unconvinced that the amendments to the planning application are enough or that they can be effectively implemented. Around 50 local residents came together to discuss the various planning issues that form the basis of their continued objection. Speaking about the school’s proposed 450m car exclusion zone, local resident Larry Miller said “A voluntary exclusion zone, a quarter of the size of the city of London, won’t work and even if it did, it would just force cars that would normally park in those streets to find spaces closer to the school, so everyone would lose.”

The school states that the exclusion zone would be compulsory not just for parents, but also staff and would form a part of the parent’s school contract. “The exclusion zone would be enforced by teachers, staff and by the parents themselves.” said Caroline Goodsman. “We intend to keep a vigilant eye over the area and will operate a strict three strikes and you’re out policy. We have a conspicuous uniform making our children easily identifiable. This means that residents within the exclusion will know if a parent is parking outside their property to drop their child off. We would welcome residents informing us of any parent breaching the zone’s rules.”

A parent of child who attends the nearby Falcons School said “Despite the Falcon’s promises to curtail parents driving and parking, no one follows the rule.” She dismissed the Heathfield House proposed exclusion zone as ‘unworkable,’ adding, “Just wait for it to get wet, cold and dark and see how many parents walk to pick their children up.”

“The new application is just as an unacceptable as the first which they were forced to withdraw at the last minute. Their new application will do nothing to alleviate the concerns of the community. An unenforceable exclusion zone won't keep parents from driving to the school. At best, it will just push more cars outside the zone for drop off and parking, spreading the problem. For the locals, this school is a lose-lose situation.” Said Larry Miller

A spokesperson for parents of children who attend Heathfield House School (on the Heathfield Terrace site) responded to these objections “Parents have attended open consultation meetings held by the school and have come face to face with the main opponents to the propose site. They made it clear to us that their chief objection to a new school in their neighbourhood was traffic. In response, parents suggested and support the establishment of a car-free zone around the school, enforced by a contract with the ultimate sanction of expulsion. We would rather leave our cars at home than leave our children without a school.”

She added “The parents of the children at Heathfield House School have no wish to blight the area in which our children will be educated, or the lives of the people who live there. All we want is somewhere for our children to learn.”

Heathfield House School is a privately owned and managed school. Administration Pauline Williamson said “We are committed to working with the local community to respond to their issues. We are looking forward to providing a high quality of education for local children and being a good neighbour to local residents.”

A steering committee, set up by local residents to object to this planning application, has recently launched a website setting out all their reasons for opposing the Old Vicarage's change of usage and to keep other residents informed of their campaign.  Details can be found at


December 12, 2005