First Wandsworth Free School Gets Site Approval

The derelict Bolingbroke Hospital will be converted

A planning application to convert the disused Bolingbroke Hospital into Wandsworth’s first ‘free school’ has been approved.
The new Bolingbroke Academy will provide enough space for 800 pupils aged between 11 and 19. It will open in September 2012 when the first year seven children will be admitted.
The school roll will grow by 120 each year until it reaches full capacity in 2018.
The academy will be free to attend and funded directly by the Government. It will be governed independently and managed by education charity ARK Schools.
The surrounding area has a high proportion of young families but does not currently have a local state secondary school.
A new GP surgery will also be created on the site which could employ around 20 staff and provide as many as 180 patient appointments every day.
The internal layout of the Grade II Listed building will be converted to create a light, modern teaching environment. Heritage features, including the nursery rhyme tiles in the former Children’s ward, will be sensitively preserved.
Recent additions to the main building will be demolished and the external facade cleaned and restored.
A new extension to the south side of the building will provide a new two court sports hall. Three smaller extensions will provide new internal staircases to enable children to move easily from one class to the next.
Two outside play spaces will be created within the site as well as a wildlife garden.
Wandsworth Council’s planning chairman Cllr Nick Cuff said:
“This scheme will rescue a prized local landmark from dereliction and create a modern, attractive teaching environment for generations of local children. The building’s historic fabric will be restored to its former glory and the unsightly extensions replaced with high quality, modern structures.
“The academy’s location will plug a conspicuous gap in the borough’s secondary school provision and the GP practice will be a major asset to the local area.”
Council leader Ravi Govindia has welcomed the committee’s decision: "This is terrific news for parents in south Battersea who have worked long and hard to make this dream a reality.
"We hope this will be the first of many free schools to spring up in Wandsworth so parents living here will have real choices over how and where their children are schooled. Encouraging diversity and innovation has been key to driving up education standards in our borough and these new institutions will help us to improve even further."


October 15, 2011