Flora Gardens Primary School is a very special place. Serving some of the most disadvantaged children in our community, it offers a truly broad curriculum, where all staff strive to deliver a high-quality education alongside multiple sporting and creative opportunities, in a nurturing and supportive environment. Sadly, however, the buildings – which were originally conceived to be a temporary structure in 1953 – are in a parlous state and are hampering the enhanced progress that our children could, and should, enjoy. Although our grounds are extensive, so much of the space is unusable and would be financially impossible to maintain, long-term.
We were delighted to be selected by LBHF as one of the first schools to benefit from this new method of redevelopment and over the past three years, the Governors and Senior Leadership have worked tirelessly alongside the Local Authority and architects to devise an exciting, modern learning environment, with opportunities for sport and outside play and learning that we would never otherwise be able to achieve. Led by the pupils, we have been mindful to include elements that enhance the existing outside space by enriching bio-diversity and adhering to a green agenda, alongside those innovative outside learning and play opportunities, while ensuring that inside, we will be able to offer the most modern teaching facilities.
The current housing crisis affects our pupils, families and staff, so we are also delighted that the overall redevelopment will include much-needed affordable housing that will benefit the wider community including local key workers, who we have all relied on so much over the past year.
We are excited that this new development will offer opportunities for the whole community, as well as many generations of pupils at Flora Gardens Primary School.
A S Naismith - Headteacher
Samantha Hill - Chair of Governors
Frequently asked questions
Why is Flora Gardens Primary School being redeveloped?
The current Flora Gardens school facilities are outdated and do not offer the best learning environment for pupils or staff. Re-providing a modern, fit for purpose school would support the borough’s ambition to give children the best start in life.
Traditional routes to redevelop schools are not available to us so we need to be flexible and innovative in our approach.
Since the Building School for the Future programme was halted in 2010 and the financial constraints placed on the council by 10 years of austerity, financial investment in school upkeep across the country has been minimal.
This means that some children in Hammersmith & Fulham are being taught in buildings that are in poor condition and are no longer fit for purpose.
As there is no national programme to proactively renew existing Community Schools, Hammersmith & Fulham Council, in collaboration with headteachers and governing bodies across the borough, have identified schools that would benefit from the new Community Schools Programme.
Flora Gardens Primary School has been identified as one of the first schools which will benefit from the new local Community Schools Programme.
What is the Community Schools Programme?
It is a new initiative by Hammersmith & Fulham Council, to improve school facilities and educational attainment by providing new high-quality, well-designed schools in the borough.
The Community Schools Programme proposes to fund the building of new schools by building and selling much needed new homes for local people on the site. These homes will be at least 50% truly affordable and 50% private leasehold with the Council always remaining as the freeholder of the entire site.
The money from the sale of new homes will fund the delivery of the school redevelopment.
It is an innovative cross-subsidy, investment model where the building of much needed new housing can also deliver a new school on each site which is fit for the 21st century.
What are the objectives of the Community Schools Programme?
We want to improve educational outcomes for the borough’s children.
We want to support thriving communities by supporting schools and creating more affordable homes for local families so they no longer have to move away from the area.
We will use this innovative approach to meet the funding challenges facing the school community.
We also want to deliver much needed affordable housing for local people.
Are there no other funding resources available which could pay for a new school without housing having to be built?
There is no current appropriate funding available from the government to rebuild existing schools. This is why Hammersmith & Fulham Council have introduced an innovative new funding model through the establishment of the Community Schools Programme.
In some instances the council can get funds through what is called a Section 106 Agreements from developments. But while the Council do get some S106 money none of these contributions are able to be used for Flora Gardens.
Why is the council selling off school land?
We are not selling off the land and will remain to owner. The council would act as the developer for this project and remain the freeholder of the entire site. Whilst half of the new homes to be built will be sold on the open market, these will be private leasehold properties.
Is it not possible for the existing school to be refurbished instead?
No. Given the age of the existing main school building (it was constructed in the 1950’s), there would be significant cost associated with refurbishment and there is no funding available for this. Refurbishing the building would also restrict the potential for enhanced educational facilities to be provided. It would be like putting a plaster on a wound – it is not a long term sustainable solution.
As well as the main school building there are also modular buildings on the site. These cannot be brought up to an appropriate standard and can also not be accommodated within the main school building due to space constraints.
Why is it not being rebuilt as a 2-Form Entry school?
This is not needed. The council’s Education Department have undertaken a thorough analysis of both the current and predicted future demand for school places in the borough. Currently there is a surplus of spaces at both Flora Gardens and other good or outstanding schools in the area and there is not demand for Flora Gardens Primary School to be enlarged to provide a 2 Form-Entry school. Should demand increase, then the requirement to create new school places will be met through Section 106 contributions.
Will the Department of Education be consulted?
Yes, the scheme can only go ahead and the school rebuilt if the permission is given by the Department of Education. This is a separate application process to the one needed to gain planning permission and the Council are also currently progressing this.
Have the school been involved in the design process and do they support the redevelopment?
Yes. Following the Cabinet decision in March 2019 to proceed with the Community Schools Programme, the council appointed an Independent Design Adviser to work with Flora Gardens senior leadership team, the governors, parents and pupils to prepare a detailed design brief for what they would want from the new school.
A full project design team were then appointed by the council towards the end of 2019. This included Walters & Cohen, an architectural practice which specialises in designing new schools.
Walters & Cohen have since worked with the Independent Design Advisor to hold regular design workshops with the school so they can have a say in how their new school is designed.
Does the school support the proposals?
Yes. The school are very supportive of the current proposals, including the principle of locating new housing on the site. At the core of everything we do is the commitment that the development is to be led by the needs of the school.
Has the decision already been made to redevelop the site?
Yes, the school needs to be re-developed and this is the best way to fund that. But the details have not yet been finalised. The proposals are still at the design development stage and will need to go through the formal planning application process and secure planning permission before any works can start on the site. We need your help to get this right.
What’s going to happen next?
We are grateful to everyone who has shared their views on these proposals with us so far. We have taken these into account as we finalise our thinking. But also want to make sure we create plans that have a high level of support among the schools and local communities. So, we want to listen to what you have say about our latest ideas.
Over the coming weeks, we will have a team of researchers talking to schools, local residents and community groups to help us in this process. In the meantime, if you want someone to listen to what you have to say, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will arrange a conversation.
We know we will not be able to please everyone. But we also know the entire community will support the idea that its children should have a safe and inspiring facility which gives them the best start in life. And that we must address the ever-increasing cost of living in London and offer options for the next generation of local homeowners and renters.
What happens to the children while the new school is being built?
After discussions with the school it was decided that to minimise disruption and to support educational continuity for the pupils, the best arrangement would be for the pupils to move ‘off-site’ during the construction period.
A number of different options were discussed and Lena Gardens Primary School has been identified as suitable for this purpose.
It is approximately 16 minutes walk away from Flora Gardens Primary school and the pupils will move there for the duration of the build. View Google map showing Flora Gardens and Lena Gardens.
Both the council and the school consider there are many positives for the school moving to a different site during the construction. It should minimise disruption and guarantees all children and staff remain on the same site. It also means there is no need for the use of porta-cabins as classrooms or offices.
Is it practical for a school and new housing to be located together on the same site?
Yes, there are successful examples of this elsewhere in London and also within the borough, for example, Ark Academy.
The scheme will be of the highest quality and by having a design team of different specialities we believe we are able to create a vibrant new mixed development where both the school and residential buildings work in harmony with each other.
Will there be a loss of playground space?
There will be more school friendly outdoor spaces. Areas of the existing playground space are not currently well used or accessible to the children, and the new proposals make maximum use of the site and provide a better outdoor play area. The proposed playground space will be of a much higher quality with many new and enhanced features.
In addition, as part of the new school design there is also the introduction of a new 2-court court sports hall which will ensure the school can successfully deliver their sports focused curriculum. This space will also be opened up outside of school hours for use by the wider community.
How will the school be kept secure?
This is a priority and the current state of the buildings are not as secure as we would all like. The security of the school and its pupils is a key consideration and one of the fundamental design principles which has been considered from the outset. The strategy to keep the residential and school buildings entirely separate will ensure this, with the school having its own secure and controlled entrance and exit points.
What will be done to protect adjacent residents during the construction period?
We will do everything we can to minimise disruption during the demolition and construction phases.
It is inevitable that there will be some disruption during a project of this scale and we apologise in advance for that.
A detailed plan will be developed to minimise disruption during the construction period. This will include a Traffic Management Plan to ensure that construction vehicle traffic to and from the site is managed appropriately.
Standard hours of working will be implemented to minimise disruption.
How tall are the buildings?
The design team have sought to ensure that the heights of the new buildings are in-keeping with the surrounding area and do not appear overly dominant. The maximum height of the new residential buildings will be six storeys, with a lower four storey building along Ravenscourt Road. We need to balance a sensible design solution for the site, whilst also building enough new homes to fund the delivery of the school.
Where will the new residents park? I am concerned about added congestion.
The development is proposed to be car-free. This is in line with policy contained within the Council’s Local Plan and the Mayor’s London Plan.
The only car parking spaces to be provided on the site will be for dedicated Blue Badge holders only. Otherwise all of the new homes (genuinely affordable and private sale), like with many recent schemes in the borough, will not be provided with a car parking space and will not be granted a parking permit for the surrounding area.
How will the wider community benefit from the proposal?
Improving schools and education benefits everybody. More affordable homes for local people also benefits the whole community. As well as providing a high-quality new school and genuinely affordable housing to help meet the borough’s housing need, the intention is for the enhanced school facilities, such as the new sports hall, to be made available to the local community and community groups for use outside of school hours.
There will be public realm enhancements around the perimeter of the site.
Why can’t more than 50% affordable housing be provided on the site?
The funding mechanism for the programme is dependent on raising enough money from the sale of housing on the site to pay for the new school. No revenue is raised from the new genuinely affordable housing, but the council recognise the pressing need for genuinely affordable housing across the borough. So the programme will balance delivering a new school, and affordable housing. However, half of the new homes need to be provided for market sale to fund the new school.
Why are some of the existing trees on the site being removed?
The council recognise that the existing trees on the site are part of what makes Flora Gardens so special. So we are working with our design team to ensure that as many of the existing of trees on site can be retained as possible.
Input from a specialist tree consultant has been sought and they have undertaken an assessment of the quality of all the trees on site. Special care has been taken to keep all of those trees which have been deemed to be of the highest quality.
It is inevitable there will be some loss of lower quality trees but these will be replaced by new planting and landscaping on site and additional enhancements to the public areas outside the school site.
What is the energy and sustainability strategy?
The new schools will almost halve carbon emissions. The council is committed to a greener and sustainable future and is seeking an on-site carbon reduction of at least 45%.
This ambitious carbon reduction target be achieved by using a combination of more sustainable energy sources, including PV panels and air source heat pumps rather than traditional gas boilers.
The proposals will also incorporate biodiverse roofs.
A best practice, sustainable energy approach to is proposed to achieve a carbon reduction on site and ensure energy efficiency.
The development will also make a financial contribution to offset the remaining carbon so it becomes a carbon-neutral development.
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How Flora Gardens Primary School will look in the future