Arguments over the green space next to the Judith Kerr School on Half Moon Lane continue. The Dulwich Estate issued a copy of its recent statement to local councillors at a meeting on 15 March while the 'Save the JKPS Green Space Campaign', made up of some local residents and parents of children at the school, issued a press release on Thursday - the two statements are published in full below:
Members of Dulwich Community Council, 15 March 2016
Thank you for providing us with the opportunity to speak with you today. I’d like to take the opportunity to introduce myself. I am James Williamson, from SP Broadway. We are assisting The Dulwich Estate regarding part of the land at 62-68 Half Moon Lane for use by its Beneficiary, The Dulwich Almshouse Charity which proposes to build new, fit for purpose almshouses.
As you may be aware, The Dulwich Estate owns the land at 62-68 Half Moon Lane, which is currently leased to the Centre for British Teachers (CfBT) Education Trust. The lease will end in 2062 but CfBT entered into an agreement under which the Estate will grant a 125 year lease to the School if it is successful in getting a planning consent on part of the land (for the proposal to build almshouses). I shall expand on the terms of this agreement later.
The Dulwich Estate is committed to continuing the aims of its Founder, Edward Alleyn, to provide shelter to the needy.
The Dulwich Almshouse Charity has, for the last 400 years, provided homes to older people in “need, hardship or distress” and of modest financial means. These homes have been provided at Edward Alleyn House, which comprises 14 flats and 2 bed-sitting rooms located in Dulwich Village adjacent to Christ’s Chapel and opposite Dulwich Park.
The Dulwich Almshouse Charity’s existing almshouses are no longer fit for purpose. The simple truth is that the 400 year old Edward Alleyn House has become increasingly difficult to adapt to modern standards. There are steps leading up to each of the four blocks, the almshouses are on two floors with no lift access. Stairlifts have been installed in three of the four blocks but the fourth is too narrow to have such a lift. The flats are very small and cannot be accessed by wheelchair users and others with impaired mobility.
I would like to tell you about The Dulwich Almshouse Charity’s intentions for the land at 62-68 Half Moon Lane:
Firstly, The Dulwich Almshouse Charity is proposing to use part of the land for almshouses – to provide 20 flats, fit for purpose, modern and spacious living accommodation fully accessible by wheelchair users. These flats would be large enough to accommodate couples.
In addition, the warden is on hand to enable elderly people to live independently. There would be communal meeting rooms (currently lacking at Edward Alleyn House) which would be made available not only to residents of the almshouses but to the wider community through the Charity’s outreach programme.
This would replace the 16 almshouses currently at Edward Alleyn House (providing four additional almshouses). Southwark Council’s Housing Strategy 2009-2016 identifies an urgent need for more housing for older people in the Borough, additional housing that this development will help to provide.
Secondly, I would like to set the record straight. Contrary to rumours spread around in the media, the land in question is not for sale to a private developer.
Thirdly, both The Dulwich Estate and The Dulwich Almshouse Charity are committed to fully engaging with the community. So we intend to hold a public exhibition in the Spring – we will carefully consider all the comments received. Throughout this consultation process the Charities will continue to liaise closely with the Dulwich Society, with almshouse residents and local resident associations. We are also keen to keep councillors up to date with the proposals.
Finally, we are of course aware that the land is adjacent to the Judith Kerr Primary School. To give you some background about this:
CfBT Schools Trust approached Kings College to assign its lease but as this has only relatively few years to run (until 2062), the Education Funding Authority wanted a longer lease. CfBT approached The Dulwich Estate and agreed that it would surrender part of the site in return for a new 125 year lease on the remainder. Under the terms of the agreement, the onus is on the Estate to make a planning application. If this is successful, the future of the School is assured in the long-term – under a 125 year lease. CfBT opened the School in the full knowledge of what it had agreed with the Estate.
However, we are aware of concerns from some of the parents at the school about the future of the land. We intend to offer to meet with the parent school governors to discuss these concerns and to explain the situation.
The Estate is fully committed in supporting its beneficiary, The Dulwich Almshouse Charity, to build new, fit for purpose, almshouses in proximity to Dulwich Village. These will provide not only accommodation for the elderly but also community meeting rooms;
The Dulwich Estate is required under the agreement with CfBT Schools Trust to seek a planning consent on the land;
Both charities are committed to engaging with the community fully, both through a public exhibition and other events.
We would like to keep you posted with the proposals and community consultation as they progress – either individually or at a similar meeting in the future.
Save The Judith Kerr Primary School Playground
We are asking The Dulwich Estate to do the right thing and not exercise their option to build on our children's playground.
The Dulwich Estate wants to build on this crucial green space that is intensively used by the children and Judith Kerr School community as their playground. The Judith Kerr Primary School (JKPS) Green Space Campaign has been set up by the local community to oppose The Dulwich Estate’s proposal to build on half of the school’s playground.
Why is it at risk?
JKPS is a state primary school. Its buildings and outside space including the grass playground, are leased from The Dulwich Estate. The lease was negotiated by the Department of Education when the school was set up in 2013. At this time, The Dulwich Estate incorporated an option into the lease allowing them to take back part of the site and to develop it into housing, subject to planning permission. If the development is approved by Southwark Council, two thirds of the school’s outdoor space will be permanently lost.
Southwark Council launched the 'New Southwark Plan' (NSP). The NSP sets out Southwark’s regeneration strategy from 2017 to 2033 as well as the principles underpinning planning applications. In the original draft of the NSP (published in 2014), the school's site was earmarked as a 'potential site for development'. Parents and locals challenged this designation requesting some protection for the grass playground. The NSP preferred consultation now proposes that the site be designated as ‘Open Space’. We are calling on Southwark Council to listen to the community and formally approve this designation.
All the beneficiary schools of The Dulwich Estate (Alleyn’s School, Dulwich College and James Allen’s Girls’ School) enjoy planning protection for their playing fields and sports grounds. It seems inequitable that this protection should not also be afforded to the Judith Kerr School and we hope The Dulwich Estate will recognise that the physical education of JKPS children is no less important.
What is the Judith Kerr Green Space?
The grass playground is an integral part of the school, used for sports, play, education, fundraising and community events. Its removal will severely restrict opportunities for education, play, sport and cultural activities for generations of school children and local residents (with a reduction of more than half the total outside space). Even including the playground, the school still only has less than half the Department of Education’s recommended minimum external space for P.E and play.
The local community needs good schools and the playing field is a vital resource to JKPS to achieve this status. The local community and JKPS will be best served now and in the long term by JKPS retaining its playing field.
What does the Dulwich Estate plan to do with the Green Space?
The Dulwich Estate recently announced that development plans for the grass playground will include Almshouses (subsidised sheltered housing for elderly people). The Save the Green Space campaign is asking The Dulwich Estate not to relocate the Almshouses from their existing, historic site in Edward Alleyn House, opposite Dulwich Park, or to consider more appropriate alternatives.
Katherine Leopold of the Save the JKPS Green Space Campaign said “The Dulwich Estate is an extensive landowner in this area. We are asking them to look elsewhere for possible development sites. We believe that Herne Hill’s interests are best served by preserving this site and safeguarding our children’s right to play, exercise, and learn outside. As a charity that primarily supports educational goals, The Dulwich Estate knows how important this is”.
Referencing the recent Dulwich Estate release dated 15th February, Emma Huntly of the Save the Green Space Campaign said: “The lease that was signed in 2013 with The Dulwich Estate states the whole of this site is to be used for educational and recreational purposes. The whole site includes not only the classrooms, but the space outside. We want The Dulwich Estate to let us continue using the site for the benefit of our children and the wider community. Given the trend of rising levels of childhood obesity, now more than ever we need this critical resource for our community.”