WHAT IS THE JUDITH KERR PRIMARY SCHOOL? 

Judith Kerr Primary School is a new, inclusive state primary school – with pupils from across South London. It is unique in the UK state sector in giving pupils the chance to learn German from age 4 up.

WHO IS PLANNING TO BUILD ON THE JUDITH KERR PRIMARY SCHOOL GREEN SPACE Playground?

The school leases its premises from the Dulwich Estate, a charity which provides funds to local private schools.When its lease was negotiated (not by the school) the lease included a provision that the school would have to surrender the plot if the Dulwich Estate submitted a planning application within a five year deadline.

HOW MUCH SPACE ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?

With the green space, the school currently has only 5,141 square metres of usable external space, approximately 14.6 square metres per child. That equates to 51.67% of the recommended minimum external space under the Area Guidelines for Mainstream Schools (the DfE's Building Bulletin 103) and less than half of the guideline area for soft outdoor physical education. If the school were to lose the green space, the effect would be to dramatically reduce the external usable space to almost a third – 1,901 square metres of usable external space, lowering it to approximately 5.4 square metres per child. Even for an urban school, this is an unacceptably low 19.11% of the guideline area and, still worse, it will reduce the area for soft outdoor physical education to zero.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF THE SCHOOL LOSES THE PLAYING FIELD?

It's important to understand that the school has not yet reached full capacity. When it has 350 children, the playground will become more crowded. Pupils and staff are worried that there won't be enough space for everyone - the footballers, the runners, and those who prefer quieter games. The loss of the playing field will also limit the vegetable patch which is being established and other educational activities. 

WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW?

Last year, the local authority launched a draft of the 'Southwark Plan' - a planning document which explains the principles by which the council will consider any future planning applications. In this first draft, the school's site was earmarked as a 'development site'. Parents and locals protested, and the second draft of the Plan proposes that the site be designated as open space. The Dulwich Estate is resisting the designation of the space as open space.

WHAT DOES THE DULWICH ESTATE WANT TO BUILD?

We feel that the Dulwich Estate needs to communicate better about its plans. It has said it wants to build almshouses, but it is not clear if these would be in addition to the almshouses already supported by the Dulwich Estate. There are alternative sites for housing, but a school playing field has to be part of a school.

WHAT RESPONSIBILITIES DOES THE DULWICH ESTATE HAVE UNDER CHARITY LAW?

Charity law says that trustees (the governing boards for charities) have a responsibility to protect the reputation of the charity. They also have discretion to decide against any revenue-raising activities that is not in-keeping with the charity's ethos. 

CAN THE LOCAL COMMUNITY USE THE JUDITH KERR PRIMARY SCHOOL PLAYING FIELD? 

The site was unused for many years before the school moved in, and was overgrown and full of rubbish and building waste. Volunteer gardeners from the school community have rehabilitated it. Now that the space is safe and accessible, and the builders are gone, we are really pleased that we can start to open the green space up to the community.The first initiative will be an open air film screening in partnership with the Herne Hill Film Festival.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO PROTECT THE SPACE?

We have been encouraging people to support the proposed planning designation of the school playing fields by Southwark Council as "other open space". The large tracts of playing fields held by local private schools, Alleyn’s School, Dulwich College and James Allen’s Girls’ School which are the beneficiaries of the Dulwich Estate, already enjoy the strongest form of planning protection as open spaces (Metropolitan Open Land). We are lobbying the Dulwich Estate to agree that the physical education of state school children is no less important – but our pleas have fallen on deaf ears. In the event that the Dulwich Estate apply for a development on the playing fields which would lose it to the school, we will put pressure on Southwark Council as the local planning authority to reject it.

WILL THERE BE ANY OTHER IMPACT ON THE LOCAL COMMUNITY?

With less space, the school would have less opportunity to run activities open to the local community. The green space also contains some very attractive trees, which would be lost if the site is built on. With so many children in the area, locals are also very worried about the impact that allowing vehicle access to an awkward corner site would have on traffic safety on Half Moon Lane.

HOW CAN I HELP SAVE THE GREEN SPACE?

Sign our petition

Write (politely) to the Dulwich Estate Trustees (contact details here

Write to the local councillors for the area