St Mary Magdalene school

Following on from my last post which looked at a proposed 36 storey tower beside the o2, this post heads south a couple of hundred metres to cover proposed schools. St Mary Magdalenes have applied to build a very large school on land to the north of the junction between Millennium Way & John Harrison Way. This isn’t any old school though. It’s a bit of a monster, offering space for 1646 pupils, ranging from nursery age all the way through to a sixth form facility. More than 200 staff will be employed.

A smaller, temporary school currently exists on the site, having opened in February this year, and has space for 120 pupils. The full school is expected to be complete by September 2017.

Housing blocks behind in latter stage of plan. Up to 10 years away
Site with  housing blocks  shown.  Thes ein latter stage of plan – up to 10 years away

The reason this post came together now is because of a number of tweets seen last week in quick succession. Firstly, yet another photo showing a huge scrum of people trying to board buses at the Peninsula bus station. Shortly after were tweets about planned schools nearby and also tweet about TfL cuts over the next 5 years.

The site is quite isolated. The school’s catchment area will cover a wider area than just the Peninsula, with many pupils from Charlton and Woolwich expected. Bus capacity is an obvious source of concern, as they’ll be a major source of transport for pupils and parents, and so many adding to existing flows doesn’t bode well. The bus station is due to be rebuilt, but can TfL even maintain existing levels of service with a cut of £700 million a year to their operating budget, let alone increase? And then there’s cars – some parents will try and drop off. Those cars will meet additional traffic from new housing in the area and large scale expansion of retail parks nearby.

The site is also close to the Blackwall tunnel. Pollution is an obvious concern, as are plans to feed another tunnel’s worth traffic from Silvertown onto the existing southbound a102 road (which will remains at the same number of lanes southbound when the tunnels converge) which will further slow down traffic. Add in extra traffic from the school and increased congestion across Greenwich and the wider area looks certain. Throw in Charlton Riverside plans over the next decade and issues mount. Oh, and the cruise liner terminal too.

Site of 3.5k homes
Site of 3.5k homes

Along with much else on the Peninsula the concern is around adequate provision of infrastructure. Buses are packed, the Jubilee Line is near capacity.

A small increase of around four trains an hour by 2019 will be provided for the many new homes and businesses on the eastern stretch of the line. Just today, 3500 new homes have been announced close to West Ham station. It matches large scale building plans at Stratford, Canning Town and Canada Water. Can the underground and bus service cope over the coming five to ten years?

Stationers’ Academy

Another school is also looking to open on the Peninsula. The Leigh Academies Trust are hoping to open a secondary school by September 2017. The plan was approved in March 2015 by the Department for Education. This will be far smaller with pupil admission numbers of 180 and a sixth form of 250. Plans are not as far advanced it appears with this school.