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Minor alterations will be made to the double deck building extension at St John's school in West Ealing - but local people are still furious.

The two white units costing around £400,000, are sited on the corner of Alexandria Road and Felix Road to enable the primary school to increase its intake this year.

Residents are unhappy with the appearance and structure which has direct views into some flats and say they weren't formally consulted.

It's now been agreed that windows on the top floor will be frosted and building panels clad to break up the large expanse of white.

Dave Randles from Felix Road in West Ealing has complained to the council and a meeting was held last week. He writes;

Another meeting was held yesterday evening at the School. The meeting was attended by local residents representing, Alexandria Road, Felix Road and Glen Park Court, which is the block of flats immediately opposite the new extension.

Jonathan Oxley, who is a local councillor for Elthorne ward, chaired the meeting; also present were representatives from the Education Department, the headmistress and 2 others from the school, including the chair of the school governing body.

Quite unbelievably, no-one from the Planning Department was available to attend and Peter Lee from Planning Services sent his apologies.

Issues raised were:

a) The Council’s lack of statutory consultation with neighbouring residents. Many local residents have now signed a petition stating that they did not receive prior notification of the development
b) Further questions as to why some local residents in Alexandria Road where not even included on the Council list for consultation
c) Further questions as to why no-one seems to have seen the Planning Notices that were allegedly attached to the School railings during the consultation period
d) Further discussion on the poor architectural nature of the building and the fact that it is completely out of keeping with the rest of the area
e) Further discussion on the reduction of green space within the school playground area
f) The close proximity to Glen Park Court and the impact that the building is having on residents living opposite
g) Further questions as to why the building doesn’t conform to the original plans
h) The lack of a published travel plan to take into account the predicted increase in local traffic levels and the impact on residential parking
i) Lack of a formal response to Stage II of the Complaints Procedure regarding the Council’s failure to consult. The matter was referred to Noel Rutherford, Director of Built Environment, who promised a response by 1st September. The Council failed to meet this deadline.
j) The Headmistress stated that, during the first year, the new building would not be used to full capacity as the planned increase in pupils is only expected to be up to 15. Initially the top floor of the extension will not be used for classrooms. The planned increase is likely to continue at the rate of 15 children per year over a 6 year period making an overall increase in capacity of about 90 places.

At the meeting, the Education Department tabled suggestions, drawn up in conjunction with the developers, to clad some of the white panels on the sides of the new building in order to break up the large expanse of white.

Although local residents felt appreciative of any proposals to moderate the impact of the building, it was considered that these suggestions failed to address the more fundamental objections that have been raised.

There was also a brief discussion on whether or not the building could be adequately camouflaged by planting trees around the site. Given the close proximity of the extension to the boundary walls, this was however not thought to be realistic.

In the absence of anyone from Planning Services, the following interim action points were agreed:

a) Developers to put opaque frosted film covering on all windows on the south elevation of the extension up to a height of 1.5 metres above floor level
b) Cllr Oxley to investigate why there has not yet been a formal response to Stage II of the Complaints Procedure
c) Cllr Oxley to speak to Noel Rutherford & Aileen Jones to find out why no-one was available to attend the meeting
d) Cllr Oxley to investigate the possibility of replacing the trees that were removed from pavements in Felix Road following the Glen Park Court construction.
e) Cllr Oxley to investigate the situation regarding an earlier request to extend the Alexandria Road CPZ into Felix Road
f) The residents to continue with their neighbourhood petition

The fact that no-one from Planning Services came to the meeting meant that many of the important issues raised at the previous meeting were left unanswered. Their lack of attendance and failure to meet the Stage II Complaints Procedure deadline has disgusted and outraged local residents who feel that this shows a complete lack of respect. Their behaviour provides further evidence of the Council’s total disregard for the quality of life in the area and demonstrates a total lack of respect towards local residents.

Dave Randles


September 5, 2009

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