Friday, 14 August 2015

Report from the Planning Committee

As anyone who reads the local papers will know, the planning application for the New Building was granted in June. Whilst objections were raised at the meeting by a resident of Menelik Rd about the proximity of the New Building, the overbearing nature (where have we heard that before? -Ed), and the possible noise that would be generated upon completion, there were a few things that we picked up on that were said.

One of the issues that came up was that of the colour, with the New Building being black, red and yellow. There were documented complaints of the combination and hue of the colours leading to the proposed building looking 'garish', although the applicant at the meeting did stress that the colours had been chosen (as opposed to randomly generated by a blind person) as they were supposedly 'autumnal', which begs the question as to why the colours are in blocks, and not something a tad more natural, if it is nature they are taking inspiration from. He went on to say that they had also been chosen so as to 'blend in with surrounding buildings'. Which building is bright yellow? In spite of all this, Camden deemed the colours 'appropriate to the site'.

Firmly in the camp of the developers was a one Jacques Szemalikowski, who was so keen to woo the councillors on the panel into granting the planning permission that he brought along two carefully selected token students to 'have their say'. Of course, these students were vetted members of the school council, and the Head kicked off with a minute-long brag about how amazing the school was (a fifth of all the time they collectively had to speak), which fell on deaf ears as it bore no consequence to the proceedings, before somewhat artificially prompting each student to say a single sentence about how amazing the school was and how amazing the New Building would be for it which, judging by the forced feeling and one looking down at notes when they spoke, we can presume the student statements were pre-prepared for them.

The Head began to look a bit shifty when opposition leader, Cllr Claire Louise-Leyland (who bears no relation to our own opposition leader Cllr. Abdi Abdi-Abdi) directly asked the students "were you asked for feedback" on your thoughts on the New Building and its features. According to our beloved student councillors, unbeknownst to the majority of students, the School Council had been invited to one meeting with between them, the Head and the governors to talk about anything they felt the student body would want from the New Building. Of course, any suggestions they could have made were swatted down as, in their own words, they had a "limited choice of change", as the school had no control over the plans (see Influence over New Building 'Stolen Away' from School). Even if they did, changing the plans would cost them more money and would be 'more than their job's worth' and, judging by the nature of the plans, how quickly they were passed and how few amendments were made (just one), it seems to be a fairly cut-and-paste project anyway.

Despite this, the two councillors triumphed in the acceptance of the one suggestion they had made about the building, of introducing school lockers, something which students have been asking for since the school got rid of the original ones, are still present and used in some of the year rooms, and were included in the original plans for the New Building.

They went on to mention that students had "lost hope" in the school council, a remark which must have undoubtedly soured Mr. Szandandcementkowski's mood, being acknowledgement that the PR stunt of a student voice is ineffective (as we have been saying for years now) and they know it. They then lightened the mood by saying their locker win (like all their other 'wins' which we have poked holes in before, see Real Leaked Minutes from School Council April-May 2014) showed students the school council was a place students "can get answers from". How so? If anything, the school council has acted as a blockage, only bringing lockers to the attention of the Head now, when we could have told him years ago. It's not like it's not been an issue; lockers have been a point of discussion amongst students for years now, yet haven't featured in school council meetings that we have reported on since we began in 2013.

If you also have insomnia and want a good night's sleep, you can find the link to the planning committee video here, and the selectively written minutes from the meeting here.

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