Wandsworth Council has made a dramatic u-turn over controversial plans to build a school on the Putney Hospital site.
A planning application submitted by the council earlier this year was met with a legal challenge from community campaign group Friends of Putney Common (FoPC).
Both parties agree a new school is needed in the area to meet rising demand but FoPC claims the council, which considered its own plans, acted “unlawfully” by not providing a thorough environment assessment into the impact of the development on the surrounding area.
The group stated this oversight made the council’s planning application to build a 420-pupil school, funded by 24 luxury flats, illegal and described the planning process as “lacking in the necessary honesty and integrity the residents of Putney expect from their own representatives and officials”.
The application was rejected at last Thursday’s planning meeting.
In an official press release last week the council said the decision would be “retaken rather than risk any delay caused by legal action”.
Councillor Kathy Tracey, the council’s children’s services spokesman, said: “It is unfortunate that a small number of people are trying to prevent a much needed primary school being built by tying us up in litigation.
“Rather than have this drag out through the courts the best thing to do is simply redetermine the application in a way that deals with the bureaucratic issues raised.”
But a spokesman for FoPC rubbished this claim.
He said: “This has been a woeful display of arrogance and obfuscation from the council.
“The original planning application from the council’s education service to itself as planning authority went through numerous revisions before being declared invalid.
“Even before the permission was finally granted in October we had pointed out the lack of a thorough environmental assessment was unlawful, and any planning permission granted would therefore be flawed.
“They did not listen. Nor did they hear the 628 objections from more than 800 residents and other local organisations who made specific objections.
“We are also now accused by Councillor Kathy Tracey of being a ‘small number of people’
“This is not so.
“We have wide support in the community, demonstrated by the number of objections registered on Wandsworth Council’s planning website.”
Putney Hospital closed services to patients in 1998 and has remained vacant ever since.