Planning dispute over new school entrance in Romford

RESIDENTS have criticized Havering Council for bypassing the planning process to create a new school pedestrian access which they don’t want.

Havering Council contractors bulldozed a fence in Benjamin Close, in Romford, and lowered the kerb to create a new opening to the alleyway which links Globe Road to the playing fields for the new Hylands Primary School which is being built just behind it.

But residents dispute whether the council had permission to do so arguing it had been unable to provide plans to prove this particular part of the highway had been adopted by the local authority.

Vince Jordan, resident and a managing director of Takeverse Ltd, the company which owns the freehold of all 36 properties in Benjamin Close on behalf of the residents, said: “They’re supposed to submit a planning application but they’ve just gone ahead and knocked down the fence and created a pedestrian walkway.

“They’re doing exactly what a traveller family would do - create something then go through the planning process to get retrospective permission.

“The plans they’ve shown us are too small to be definitive about where the adoption of the road finishes. We say it finishes at the kerb.”

He said Land Registry plans showed a small strip of land between the kerb and fence belonging to residents but a spokesman for Havering Council said the Highways Register said otherwise.

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The dispute initially surfaced in August when residents successfully stopped council contractors when they turned up to create the same access, but this time residents were too late to stop it.

Vince said: “We’re frightened about the amount of traffic and safety of children who would be walking to school.”

He said the increased volume of cars as more parents use the road to drop their children off at school coupled with the increased number of children would be “an accident waiting to happen”.

He said: “The road is already too narrow. A child could be hurt or possibly even killed.”

The latest access point created is in addition to a separate part of Benjamin Close, where Havering Council initially wanted to locate the pedestrian school access, which is the subject of a compulsory purchase order (CPO) - and which residents object to for the same reasons.

But due to potential delays in the CPO being completed with the possibility of it going to a public enquiry, which could take some time, the council chose to re-site the access and said residents were informed of this.

The Havering Council spokesman added: “Creating an additional access into our alleyway at the northern end of Benjamin Close does not require planning permission.

“We will need to get planning permission to move the proposed pedestrian entrance. This will be considered in the New Year.”

Cabinet Member for Children and Learning, Councillor Paul Rochford, said: “We want children to be able to walk safely into their new school which is why there needs to be a separate pedestrian entrance. Because of the potential delay in waiting for the compulsory purchase order we are going to move the position of this entrance onto our own land.”

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