Mill Hill primary wins site battle

Planning permission has been granted for the Etz Chaim Jewish Primary in Mill Hill despite vociferous local opposition.

The one-form entry primary - one of the government's first free schools - will accept nursery and reception pupils in the autumn.

Barnet Council's planning consent will enable it to open its permanent premises on the site of the Wyevale garden centre in Daws Lane in 2012. The one-form entry school will eventually house 222 pupils.

More than 2,000 people signed a petition opposing the plans and a Facebook group, Keep Wyevale garden centre Mill Hill, attracted more than 200 members.

Etz Chaim governors' chair Adam Dawson said the school was looking for ways to make facilities available to the local community in the evenings, weekends and school holidays.

A website has been set up as a platform for suggestions.

"We are delighted to have secured planning permission. This is a very exciting time for our community. Over the coming months, our focus will be on ensuring the site will be a well-loved community hub, as well as a school with the highest possible academic standards."

A number of suggestions had already been received on possible additional use of the building. "Several local clubs and groups have expressed an interest in using the school hall as a meeting place," Mr Dawson reported. "People have also suggested that the playground be made available to local children at weekends."

Barnet education chief Councillor Andrew Harper said: "The council will be pleased to welcome Etz Chaim to Barnet's family of schools. Free schools like this will enrich the choice available to our residents.

"We support this addition to our borough as it will provide extra primary school places in an area where there is high demand. It will also contribute to the council's aim of making sure that every school is a good school for every child."

    Last updated: 2:22pm, July 28 2011