Free School's Move to Palingswick House Gets Go Ahead

Planning applications committee pave the way for 2013 opening

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West London Free School

Council Set to Approve Free School's Move to Palingswick House

West London Free School to Open Primary in 2013

Planning Application Committee report

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As expected, West London Free School, which is currently based in Cambridge Grove in Hammersmith has been given the go ahead to turn turn Palingswick House in King Street into a new 4,300 square metre school for 600 pupils, aged 11-16.

The decision on whether to allow plans for the building to change its use to a school, to renovate the building and build an adjoining block at the site was made at Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s planning applications committee last night, Tuesday October 16.

The application means two Victorian "buildings of merit" – Palingswick House and the superintendent's house, known as The Lodge - will now be fully refurbished. A four-storey building with a glass atrium, housing an assembly hall, kitchen and dining room and classrooms will also be built.

The plans show 20 standard classrooms, six science laboratories, two art studios, two music rooms, a main hall, a library, rooms for central support staff and administration facilities at the scheme.

Cllr Helen Binmore, H&F Council cabinet member for children's services, says: "These plans are exciting and will provide yet another first class school in the borough. This council backs the need for parental choice in H&F and this approval means that not only are much needed school places for children being provided but also that an historic piece of Hammersmith's heritage will be preserved for future generations."

Proposals for the scheme have been presented at two council Design Review Panels this year and changes suggested at those meetings appear in this revised plan.

The outside games areas will only be used from 8am to 6pm on weekdays and between 9am and 1pm on Saturdays. No school coaches or mini-buses will be able to park, wait, load or unload passengers from or to Weltje Road.

No work will begin until the current buildings are photographed and a historical record has been made of the site, for logging in the borough’s archives. A commemorative plaque with information about the property’s history will also be made and put up at the new school.

Palingswick House was originally built around 1849 as a family home, but over the years has been used as an orphanage and workhouse, the orphanage's superintendent’s house, a school, children’s home, hostel for diabetic children and a community resource centre.

West London Free School – which opened in September 2011 – hopes to open at the King Street address next September, with an initial pupil role of 360. Each following year the number of pupils will increase by 120 until the capacity of 600 students were reached in 2015.

The Cambridge Grove site, meanwhile is set to become home to West London Free School's new primary, which as we reported in January this year, also hopes to open its doors in 2013.

Author Toby Young, who led the group of local parents behind the new school, also foresees a whole chain of similar schools, pointing out that a chain could reap economies of scale, share best practice and pool resources such as playing fields.

"It makes a great deal of sense," he said. "The idea of providing a classical, liberal education regardless of background and ability has proved extremely popular."

This is in line with Mayor Boris Johnson's stated ambition to see dozens of free schools opening in London, using sites such as former police and fire stations.

Parents who are interested in applying for a place at either the primary or secondary school are invited to fill out the form on the school's website.

October 17, 2012