All photography provided by Claudia Leisinger

The Judith Kerr Primary School (JKPS) Green Space Campaign has been set up by the local community to prevent the school’s only playing field being sold off for development by The Dulwich Estate.

The playing field is an integral part of the school, used intensively for sports, play, education, and social events. The school will eventually have 350 children aged 4-11 years. The removal of the only playing field will reduce the outside space available by more than half and remove all green space. The removal of the playing field will severely restrict the opportunities for education, play and sport for generations of school children. The development will add further congestion to a very busy intersection and its proximity to the school gates will constitute an ongoing safety risk.

The local community needs good schools and the playing field is a vital resource to JKPS to achieve this. The local community and JKPS will be best served now and in the long term by JKPS retaining its playing field.

Why is JKPS’s only playing field at risk of being sold?

JKPS is a state primary school and leases its building and grounds, which includes the only playing field, from The Dulwich Estate. The Dulwich Estate incorporated an option into the lease allowing it to develop residential housing on the playing field subject to planning permission. If the development is approved, the playing field will be permanently lost to the school.

Why is it wrong to remove the playing field from JKPS?

The advice from the Secretary of State for Education is emphatically in favour of protecting school playing fields: [www.gov.uk]. The Dulwich Estate’s plan to deprive JKPS of its only playing field is contrary to government policy of safeguarding playing fields.

The Dulwich Estate is primarily an education charity. Its charitable objective is to raise money for its beneficiaries, which are predominantly private schools with extensive grounds and excellent sporting facilities.

JKPS is a state school which is run by an education charity, CfBT. It is inequitable for The Dulwich Estate, as an educational charity, to generate revenue for its affluent beneficiaries by disposing of another school’s playing field; all the more so where that school is run by an education charity. It will also severely hinder CfBT from achieving its stated mission to “advance education for the public benefit”. The Dulwich Estate’s plan to develop the playing field for commercial gain therefore deviates from its duty to carry out its charitable purposes for the 'public benefit' (as defined in the Charities Act 2011).

Why is the JKPS Green Space Campaign and not the school campaigning to keep the playing field?

The lease from The Dulwich Estate stipulates that JKPS is not allowed to object to planning permission. Therefore the JKPS Green Space Campaign has been established to prevent the school from losing the playing field on behalf of the school, its children and the local community. The lease further restricts the school, CfBT and the school’s governing body from opposing the planning application(s). We consider that The Dulwich Estate, as an education charity, is actively preventing JKPS from promoting the best interests of its children and campaigning to keep the green space for the school. This again is contrary to the Charity Commission’s requirement for The Dulwich Estate to pursue its charitable purpose for the ‘public benefit’.

 


“We need space to run around, play and do sport. If we have to stay inside all the children would get hot”
— Stephen Leopold, Y1 being interviewed for BBC Radio London, 10th February 2016