Mayor approves plans to build free school in Bermondsey

19 December 2013

Plans to construct a free school in an area of Bermondsey with a chronic shortage of school places have been approved by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, today (Thursday, December 19).

Last June, Southwark Council rejected plans for the Southwark Free School, on Rotherhithe New Road, together with a sixth form extension for the City of London Academy. The council claimed that the designs were “overbearing” and the development would have removed valuable industrial land from the borough.

The Mayor chose to take over the application for his own determination because the area is in desperate need of more school places.

At a public hearing earlier today, the Mayor approved the scheme, which will also include a 19-storey apartment block comprising 158 homes - also much needed in the borough.

The site, which is currently low-intensity industrial use, will now provide a permanent home for the 450-place free school and nursery as well as a sixth form for an additional 60 pupils a year. Outside of school hours, the sixth form will also provide space for a local community group.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: 'With London Councils' own figures showing that boroughs face a shortage of more than 100,000 permanent primary places by 2016-17, it's clear we are heading for a school places emergency. It is critical that our youngsters have access to schools that offer high quality teaching and this new school will relieve some of the pressure in Southwark.”

The Mayor approved the application, from SCCD developments, on the grounds that Southwark is in clear need of additional primary school places and that the loss of industrial land is acceptable. He also cited the fact the homes would make a contribution to housing delivery targets in this area.

The school is currently based on a temporary basis in the Tenants’ and Residents’ Association Hall on the Ledbury Estate.