Residents voice strong criticism in school wall planning debate

Colin Petch in his back garden behind which Greenway School has built a seven foot wall without planning permission. Photo by Derek Martin

Colin Petch in his back garden behind which Greenway School has built a seven foot wall without planning permission. Photo by Derek Martin

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Ofsted inspections

People affected by a wall built by a Horsham school around its perimeter have said they were misled by the school over the plans.

JPCT 150612 Colin Petch in his back garden behind which Greenway School has built a nine foot wall without planning permission. Photo by Derek Martin

JPCT 150612 Colin Petch in his back garden behind which Greenway School has built a nine foot wall without planning permission. Photo by Derek Martin

For five years parents of children at Greenway School, in Greenway, have received mixed messages about the purpose of the wall, which in some parts overlooks neighbouring gardens.

Following Horsham District Council’s decision last week to refuse retrospective planning permission, people have spoken out about how the school consulted on the plans.

Residents and parents have said the school first said it would be a games wall and only later did letters from the school say it was for child protection.

The report to last Tuesday’s development management committee said: “The applicant has stated that the walls were erected following advice after an Ofsted visit to the school relating to concerns at the uneven ground conditions adjacent to flat playground area.”

Headteacher Keith Todd confirmed this position in a statement to the County Times last week.

Councillors particularly objected to a 7.5 ft part of the wall backing onto Churchill Avenue, which imposes on neighbours’ gardens.

Other parts are nine feet high and members said the design made the school like ‘a prison’.

Colin Petch, who has lived in Churchill Avenue for 36 years, said: “Most of [the perimeter wall] is extremely attractive. It’s this bit. All we have asked is that it’s reduced.

“I cannot understand Mr Todd’s references to privacy and child protection. Protection from what?”

Parent Natalie Ward said the money could be better spent.

“The school building itself is falling apart. Why spend money on this when it could be better spent?

“No parents were asked an opinion and residents were contacted by the council. Mr Todd has quoted Ofsted reports, but they do not say anything [about children protection].”

Ofsted reports from 2005, 2007 and 2009 state the health and wellbeing of pupils at the school have improved with time, as has the standard of education and the leadership under Mr Todd.

The County Times asked Mr Todd for a comment from the school, but we did not receive a reply before going to press.

THE FACTS

Reports from June 2005, February 2007, November 2009 show continual improvement in education, leadership and safety

November 2011

The school started building work and, once notified of the need for planning permission, submitted an application to HDC

June 2012

Planning permission refused by the council and school confirmed it will appeal the decision