Gospel Oak School to lose its pollution buffer of fruit trees, birch trees and meadow

writes Jessica Jacobs

Disappointing news that Gospel Oak Primary School Head teacher John Hayes’ extension plans will take the school even closer to the busy traffic of Mansfield Road because it includes the removal of the beautiful meadow and birch trees and fruit tress bordering the school entrance.

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Planting the apple tree by school entrance September 2008 Part of the Little Green Fingers Gardening Club initiative

 

These trees are a vital protection for pollution and a beautiful asset for Mansfield Road. From the data the Green Party and Clean Air London (Simon Burkett) have already got, Mansfield Road (by Gospel Oak Station and the school entrance ) got readings of 45 and 46 ug/m2. The World Health Organisation and the EU say that breathing more than 20 ug/m2 of NO2 is dangerous and more than 40 ug/m2 is illegal.

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Map of pollution levels in Camden streets

Mr Hayes claims that their removal is necessary because the plans include a disabled access ramp. Furthermore the trees have been examined and are in an ‘deteriorated’ state. Once removed there will be saplings replanted but he could not confirm how many and what size. The majority of the meadow would be paved over however.

 

While a disabled ramp is long overdue at the school, it is not clear why it was not installed on the other side of the school entrance. In the last ten years, the steps to the school have been significantly altered on two occasions – both perfect opportunities to install a ramp. However even though parents requested this no ramp was installed and the steps remained. The trees also look in good shape – while the fruit trees have been producing delicious fruit since they were planted in 2008, helping highly urbanised children understand that where food comes from.

What is perhaps more worrying is that there has been very little communication with the parents at the school. The plans include a lot of building work but Mr Hayes has only mentioned it once to a small group of parents at his coffee mornings. He also says he tweeted about it (140 followers) but the tweet has not yet been located. The school has a regular newsletter but this option was not chosen. When asked this week, Mr Hayes agreed to post architects drawings of the plan on the school website. http://www.gospeloak.camden.sch.uk/

However one parent who has been involved in the development project stated that it would not be a good idea to publicise details of the plans as it would give parents the ‘wrong message’. In addition the planning permission portal that is open for comments closes very soon – during half-term – so parents and the public will not be able to access these drawings until after the deadline.

To find out more and leave a comment on the planning application go to:

http://planningrecords.camden.gov.uk/Northgate/PlanningExplorer17/GeneralSearch.aspx

Enter the planning reference number 2016/0665/P 

Or try this link

http://planningrecords.camden.gov.uk/Northgate/PlanningExplorer17/PLComments.aspx?pk=429078

Deadline for comments on camden planning portal is June 9 2016