Gordonbrock: Lewisham Council proceeds as planned

Lewisham Council has confirmed that it intends to push ahead with its plans to redevelop Gordonbrock School in Ladywell.

In the long, colourful history of Brockley Central, no issue has been as controversial as the fate of Gordonbrook School. Plans to decant pupils to Forest Hill and rebuild part of the school were put on hold earlier this year as a result of a last minute legal challenge by the Brockley Society, who hoped to prevent the demolition of historic buildings.

Initial concept sketches for an alternative design were produced by BrocSoc and a meeting was held with the Council to see if a way forward could be agreed and a legal challenge could be avoided. Following the meeting a Lewisham Council spokesperson said:

“Having considered the Brockley Society’s revised plans in detail, we remain concerned their proposal to retain an extra building on the site does not allow for the level of flexibility required to meet the future needs of the school. The Society’s plans place restrictions on the preferred teaching arrangements, would require significant changes to the existing plans and would take additional time that could seriously endanger funding. For all these reasons the Council has decided to proceed with submitting a planning application based on the original scheme.”

34 comments:

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

I have not commented upon this to date as I have no school age children.

So far however no one has explained to me what the Broc Soc is doing getting involved in this?

It is outside the Conservation area and as such outside their remit as I understand it.

Has the society been hijacked by some anti-establishment group or something?

Monkeyboy said...

House prices, crime (with a dash of race politics) and now a developent argument? Brockley Central never shys away from a scrap.

I say build, I'm watching while loads of schemes within LU get canned. A delay for a redesign is a perfect excuse to stop this dead. BrocSoc may have a point (not convinced personally) but is doing nothing preferable?

[puts on tin hat and hides in the cellar...]

Anonymous said...

Maybe BrocSoc value children's education below aesthetics?

Anonymous said...

Tyrwhitt Michael: in brief, the BrocSoc representative who has been posting on here in recent weeks has stated that the Society is now open to people outside the conservation area to join as members, and also that BrocSoc now sees its remit as being involved in issues in the wider area as well as the conservation area.

This seems to me to be a significant shift in its interpretation of its remit, particularly given previous BrocSoc pronouncements.

Tressilliana said...

It goes beyond that, Anon. BrocSoc now says that you can't be a member if you don't support its stance on conservation. All a far cry from the previous approach of saying that everyone is automatically a member if they live in the conservation area.

Bea said...

Tresilliana - but their remit IS conservation so if you don't agree with that you're hardly a member!

“ Membership shall be open to all who are interested in actively furthering the purposes of the Society”

If you’re not “furthering” their object of “securing the preservation, protection, development and improvement of features of historic or public interest in the area of benefit” then you can hardly complain that they don’t want you!

And their area of benefit is not only the C area but areas immediately outside - which Gordonbrook is since it lies right next to it.

Bea said...

Furthermore, Broc Soc has been actively involved in areas outside the immediate BC area since 1989.

Just wish people would bother reading their website before posting disinformation.

Anonymous said...

My post was, I thought, a fair summary of Robert (BrocSoc)'s comments on one of the main Gordonbrock threads, Bea.
Additionally, I don't think it can be denied that legal action is a big step-change in BrocSoc's approach, whether one agrees with it or not.
I may be wrong, but I'm not aware of BrocSoc having injuncted the council previously over any issue - injuctions are a serious tactic, and indicate a fighting spirit within the society (again, whether you support the action or not, I think that's a fairly uncontroversial point).

Tressilliana said...

I've lived in the conservation area since 1995 and was aware of BrocSoc's existence several years before that when we lived in Crofton Park and it was active in opposing the Channel Tunnel route that would have gone under Hilly Fields. I know BrocSoc's written constitution says it's a conservation group but throughout the last 20 years it has, to my knowledge, concentrated on monitoring planning issues within the conservation area and I've never heard of it taking legal action before. I'm clearly not the only person who feels that there has been a change in direction recently.

Tressilliana said...

I should add that I used to be a supporter of BrocSoc. I delivered newsletters for many years, although I don't think I've ever attended a meeting. Not any more. Conservation is important, but not at any cost. Gordonbrock needs much improved buildings. Lewisham has a massive shortfall of school places and a dearth of new sites to build more primary schools. Gordonbrock can take more children but only with mostly new buildings. QED, as far as I'm concerned.

Bea said...

True - as far as I am aware - it is the first time BS has taken out an injunction (but that is not what you wrote in your previous post).

And so what if it has! There is nothing to stop them from doing this and I think it is a reflection of the commitment of the people running the committee.

Broc Soc has never been just planning as is more that apparent if you read their newsletter (which I am sure you have Tressilliana since you used to deliver it) back copies of which are on their website.

Bea said...

Here are some examples of other successful planning issues Broc Soc has been involved in - and I am very pleased they have since it has preserved the architectural heritage of where I live.

• We campaigned to stop the demolition of St Peter’s Hall and helped to raise funds to maintain it as a Community Centre. We refurbished the building and helped run the centre with new activities. Sadly, it was sold in 2002.

• We campaigned against the boarding up and sale of Brockley County School on Hilly Fields. We got the building listed and asked that a group of artists should caretake it until a suitable future use was found. Prendergast School soon took an interest and is now a very successful school on its new site.

• We campaigned against the closure and sale of Deptford Library and spent three years negotiating its use as a Visual Arts Centre. When the Council finally agreed, the artists, now homeless when Prendergast took over the school on the hill, moved into the listed library building and renamed it Lewisham Arthouse . Another success

• We spent 30 years arguing against residential development in the Mews that would benefit only developers, would be detrimental to the character of the Conservation Area and would add to loss of water resources. The council now agrees! A Bill is going through parliament trying to stop development of gardens, currently designated as Brownfield sites and therefore fair game for the developers. We are ahead of the field!

Anonymous said...

Prendergast and the mews are both in the conservation area.

abw said...

this is great news for the children in the area

Bea said...

Yes, I know they are! But are still examples of success.

Tressilliana said...

Examples of success which did not involve putting the finance for a council scheme at risk. That is what I find unforgivable in what BrocSoc did this year. They had plenty of chance to get involved years ago when the planning permission was first applied for. No matter how strongly the current committee felt about the plans when the council revived the scheme, I can't see that it was justified to take the risk that the funding would be lost.

This is not something that I expect the BrocSoc and its supporters to agree with me on - but it was evident when this was discussed here before that there are plenty of other local residents who feel as I do on this, and a lot of them are Gordonbrock parents.

Headhunter said...

I didn't realise that the law redesignating gardens from brownfield sites and therefore ripe for exploitation by developers to something else was going through. I remember Boris, I think, saying that this is something he would push for if he won the election, but I hadn't heard anything more about it. Good news.

Blue sky said...

Whether you agree with its stance on this particular subject or not (I'm sitting on the fence having swung in both directions during the fierce BC debate), Brocsoc is a positive force in the area, as demonstrated by its success stories. On this occasion they haven't been successful anyway (although I hope the council is at least making the few improvements to the existing plans that they seemed to have agreed to). It's very different when a campaign affects you personally. Maybe the artists weren't too happy initially with the Prendergast campaign, and I'm sure there were lots of people that were annoyed that their tunnel plans were scuppered, but it was for the greater good. Maybe this would have been the case with gordonbrock but we'll never know.

Bea said...

HH - I don't know how up-to-date that statement about the mews is (I've seen it on the website for a while now!)

Tressilliana - I hear your position but there are also parents at Gordonbrook who back the BS.

Tressilliana said...

Oh, and by the way, BrocSoc had nothing to do with Prendergast's purchase of the Hilly Fields buildings. This was under discussion between Lewisham Council and the school's governing bodies from very early in the 90s. Prendergast was then on a very cramped site in Catford with no room for expansion and had been looking for a new site for some time.


Local artists had no workspace previously and were only in what is now Prendergast for a year or two. BrocSoc's contribution was in assisting them to move over to Deptford Town Hall.

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

Please be aware that I did read the Society's website before posting:

I quote:-

"Officially we cover the Brockley Conservation Area and are here to help protect our homes, streets and parks from unsympathetic or damaging development. Unofficially, we take an active interest in the whole Brockley community and do what we can to make a difference."

Forgive me if I am wrong but in my opinion taking legal action against the local authority is going some way beyond an “unofficial interest” in the wider community. Moreover it is not taking away resources from undertaking their “official” duties? I can point to a lot of problems inside the conservation area that have been “overlooked” for some time.

I know that if I don't like what they are doing I should go along and take part. Unfortunately I work in the private sector and in the current climate do not have the time (or possibly inclination) to do so.

I will note however whilst on the subject of the Brockley Society that they perpetuated the LIE regarding the colour scheme of the Big Yellow building proposed for Lewisham Way put about by the anti Big Yellow protest group. The building is NOT predominantly yellow as is claimed. The planning inspector's comments on the petition raised by the objectors makes interesting reading. Oh yes and also not in the CA.

That is the last I have to say on the Gordonbrook Topic and on the Brockley Society.

Bea said...

Tressilliana - BS doesn't claim to have been involved in the purchase of Prendergast!

Instead it:

- campaigned against the boarding up and sale of Brockley County School on Hilly Fields (presumably to developers?)

- got the building listed; and

- asked that a group of artists should caretake it until a suitable future use was found

Tressilliana said...

Yes - I know that. I was clarifying a point made by Blue Sky.

I should add that getting the Prendergast Upper Site listed has considerably increased the school's costs as every change to that building has to comply with English Heritage regulations and the school gets no additional funding to allow for that.

Bea said...

Tyrwhitt Michael - well you did ask! Has your question been answered though (even if you don't like the reply?)

Sensibly, Moneky Boy has put his tin hat on.

TM said...

No, not really. It was however somewhat retoric as I answer myself in the last para of the opening post

I rather like Moneky Boy as a spelling though.

:-)

Bea said...

It's pronounced the Chinese way as in "Monkeee" of 1970’s film fame ;D

TM said...

It reminded me of Princess Mononoke which I enjoyed watching on Film 4 recently.

The Cat Man said...

Sounds all rather too foreign for my liking
, what's wrong with eastenders?

lb said...

I think one of the main issues here is that their stance on the school goes some way beyond "securing the preservation, protection, development and improvement of features of historic or public interest in the area of benefit". This is, fundamentally, an education matter, and as such they really shouldn't be getting involved, especially as some of their previous actions show them to have little understanding of issues of urban development control beyond simply insisting on pastiche, should development take place at all.

mat said...

Indeed, so what if it is the first time they have issued an injunction. We now have Bulldozer Bullock and his council laying waste Lewisham's Victorian and Edwardian Heritage.

I don't know why the council took so long to get the funding for this school, having had it disappear once. Other schools have now been completed from same funding source.

It is not just an education issue. If the council had a vision to go with an alternative option they could be progressing it now and be in line for keeping the funding. It is their choice to go with their mediocre and pretty unpopular scheme. From what I can gather the flexibility comes in being able to make big class rooms double the size by taking out dividing walls.
Yes and there are parents who think they are getting something wonderful and presumably aren't on board with playtime and outdoor learning being important. Just get the kids in front of a high tech screen and watch that modern learning.

The council are now jeopodising the funding by going with a scheme which the local and national conservation societies object to and lots of parents think isn't up to scratch.

I'm not sure it is inline with good planning guidance either.

mat said...

Indeed, so what if it is the first time they have issued an injunction. We now have Bulldozer Bullock and his council laying waste Lewisham's Victorian and Edwardian Heritage.

I don't know why the council took so long to get the funding for this school, having had it disappear once. Other schools have now been completed from same funding source.

It is not just an education issue. If the council had a vision to go with an alternative option they could be progressing it now and be in line for keeping the funding. It is their choice to go with their mediocre and pretty unpopular scheme. From what I can gather the flexibility comes in being able to make big class rooms double the size by taking out dividing walls.
Yes and there are parents who think they are getting something wonderful and presumably aren't on board with playtime and outdoor learning being important. Just get the kids in front of a high tech screen and watch that modern learning.

The council are now jeopodising the funding by going with a scheme which the local and national conservation societies object to and lots of parents think isn't up to scratch.

I'm not sure it is inline with good planning guidance either.

HappyBrockers said...

Isn't it fabulous that we all care so much about Gordonbrock school, and the work of our brilliant BrocSoc. We obviously all want the best for our neighbourhood and the children within it.

Name said...

It appears Gordonbrock is unaffected by Gove's slashings of the schools buildings programme. Gordonbrock is not on the list so I guess its funding comes from elsewhere.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/interactive/2010/jul/05/building-schools-for-the-future-michael-gove

Interesting to see from that link, how many of Lewisham's school building projects are funding by PFI. This borough is very PFI friendly.

Anonymous said...

Tressilliana, please contact me re Samantha Joseph

rosemarieleclerc(at)yahoo.com

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