Opponents of Etz Chaim school site launch new legal fight

By Jay Grenby, June 15, 2012
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Campaigners opposing the location of the permanent Mill Hill premises for the Etz Chaim Jewish Primary have applied once again for a judicial review of Barnet Council’s planning consent.

They are maintaining their claim that Barnet planners have not prioritised the needs of the local elderly and disabled who regularly used the garden centre the school will replace on the Daws Lane site. They accuse the council of paying only “lip service” to the requirements of the Equalities Act.

A previous legal challenge last year prompted Barnet to concede that it had failed to give due regard to the needs of the elderly and disabled when approving the original plans. However, after further assessment of equalities issues in considering a renewed planning application, the council gave the go-ahead for work to begin.

The judicial review application has been made on behalf of fellow campaigners by local Jewish disabled resident Daniel Coleman.

“This is not so much about a ‘much loved facility’ but a place that was essential to my quality of life,” he said of the garden centre.

Etz Chaim governors’ chair Adam Dawson said lawyers had been instructed “to robustly defend the judicial review. It is sad that so much time and public money is being spent on litigation. However, the focus of the governors remains on ensuring the new building is ready in the near future for the children and local community to use.”

One of the first wave of government-backed free schools, Etz Chaim is operating a nursery and reception class in temporary premises further along Daws Lane. The hope remains that the school can open in its permanent home early in 2013.

Last updated: 8:58am, June 15 2012