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Boys' school plan quashed by judges

PUBLISHED: 16:32 05 August 2009 | UPDATED: 15:37 16 August 2010

BRITAIN S second most senior court has quashed planning permission for a new £38 million boys school building, writes Kate Nelson. Last Friday, in a dramatic twist of events, three top judges at the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Beckenham s Langley

BRITAIN'S second most senior court has quashed planning permission for a new £38 million boys' school building, writes Kate Nelson.

Last Friday, in a dramatic twist of events, three top judges at the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Beckenham's Langley Park Girls' School in Hawksbrook Lane, which has fought tooth and nail against proposals for new premises for Langley Park Boys' School, located in the same road.

Governors at the boys' school said they were "dismayed" by the decision but vowed to push forward with a new application in the coming months.

Bromley council granted permission for the building in 2006 but Lord Justice Sullivan said its decision was "seriously flawed", in some respects "misleading" and its consideration of an alternative proposal put forward by the girls' school "wholly inadequate".

The boys' school was selected for millions of pounds of public funding under the Government's School Pathfinder Programme in June 2006. It claims its current premises, which were built for 650 children but which currently house 1,600, are having a detrimental effect on pupils' education and behaviour.

QC for Bromley council John Steel told the judges that Ofsted had highlighted the "poor state" of the boys' school's buildings.

He said more than £200,000 had already been spent on preliminary work, the money available is finite, and the boys' school is deeply concerned that any more delay might result in construction work being cancelled and pupils spending much longer in inadequate buildings. But their pleas fell on deaf ears and Bromley council is now facing significant legal costs.

Girls' school headteacher Jan Sage and its governors are against the current plans as they feel it is too close to their site.

Speaking earlier this year Ms Sage said: "Our objection is to the proposed location of the new build, the proximity of which threatens the quiet order of our school, not to the new build itself which is needed.

"An alternative location nearer to the existing boys' school buildings would preserve both the necessary physical distance between the two schools and the openness of our own fairly compact site."

Bromley council leader, Stephen Carr, is now considering further legal action. He said: "We remain confident that the council has dealt lawfully and appropriately with this planning application.

"In February a request for a judicial review brought by Langley Park School for Girls challenging the decision process was dismissed by the High Court. We are therefore extremely frustrated that the Court of Appeal has now ruled in a different direction, bringing further delay and costs to this scheme. We are currently seeking guidance about legal options open to us, including clarification on the law from the Supreme Court. We are determined to see the building go ahead and a new application will be submitted imminently."

Chair of Governors for the boy's school, Charlie Grimble, said: "Though dismayed by this setback we remain committed to providing the facilities that our pupils deserve."

kate.mead@archant.co.uk

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