A contentious planning application for the redevelopment of the Edgware Jewish Primary School site in Hale Lane was this week withdrawn at the request of Barnet Council.
In a statement to the JC on Wednesday, the council said it had "raised some serious concerns around the proposal in its current state. We are very keen to continue to work with the applicant to find a satisfactory outcome."
The site, owned by the Jewish Secondary Schools Movement, currently also accommodates the school's nursery as well as the Edgware Adath Yisroel Congregation synagogue. The projected move by the synagogue to former church premises nearby has cleared the way for the construction of "a new state-of-the art one-form entry and nursery" on the site. The intention is to demolish the existing buildings and to erect a part-single, part two-storey replacement.
With the recent influx of young Orthodox families to the area, demand exceeds supply for places at the school, which this year received a glowing report from Ofsted inspectors. For the new academic term, EJPS will have 79 pupils across four school years. The plan is to accommodate up to 300 pupils, including the nursery, by the time the school is fully established in 2012.
Governors' chairman Eddy Breuer-Weil maintained: "It is important for the local community that we provide a first-class building to match the high standard of education that our children already receive at EJPS.
"There has been strong public support for the application - over 200 letters and a petition from almost 900 supporters was sent to the planning officers."
However, around 50 local residents are opposing the proposals. Among them is Angela Raffles, a member of the Heather Walk and District Residents' Association, who is concerned about extra noise, traffic and disruption.
Mrs Raffles - who like half the association's members, is Jewish - is particularly worried that the redeveloped premises will be used for communal and educational activities until late in the evening. "We want to be conciliatory, but this is too much," she said.
According to the project's architects, the proposed usage is "no more than currently occurs on the site in premises that are rather less appropriate than those proposed".
Two years ago, an application to build a temporary classroom at the rear of the site was turned down after neighbours complained that the "size, bulk and siting would be detrimental to residential and visual amenities".
An EJPS spokesman told the JC that the school would not be making radical changes to the plans.