Flora Gardens School Relocation Gets Go Ahead

Timescale for return to existing building not yet specified

Flora Gardens Primary School on Dalling Road

December 5, 2023

Hammersmith & Fulham Council has waved through plans to relocate primary school students being taught in a building with “significant condition and suitability issues”. However, the council said it cannot give a “specific deadline” as to how long the temporary move will last, with further steps necessary before it can provide an accurate timeline.

As previously reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), Flora Gardens Primary on Dalling Road had been hoping to move to the former Lena Gardens Primary School site, a 15-minute walk away, due to “significant works” being required on its main building. Council officers had written in a report that “a complete refurbishment of Flora Gardens has not been fully costed, as the option is not viable”, though that it will likely be in the region of £1.5 million to £2 million.

The council’s cabinet had been advised to approve the proposal and a £200,000 contribution from Section 106 funds to assist with the relocation. In a letter to parents, the school had written it hopes the move will take place before or during the summer term next year.

At a cabinet meeting on Monday night (4 December), committee members agreed with the recommendation and voted to give the relocation the green light. Questions were raised however about how temporary the relocation would be. Conservative councillor Alex Karmel, having asked three times about the length of time envisaged, but was told by the Labour council leader Stephen Cowan, “This is an enabling paper, that’s what this does, and it would be wrong for us to give a specific deadline at the moment for several reasons.

“One, we would have to procure that and procuring is extremely difficult at the moment, build costs are up by about 40per cent, that’s a combination of Brexit and the pandemic, but also shortage of supplies and structural problems in the building industry. Two, that is a matter being commercially negotiated. And three, this is only an enabling paper. So when we have those papers, they will go through the policy process.”

Cllr Karmel said the council must have some idea of the “order of magnitude, as to whether it’s going to be six, 18, 24, 36 months”, before adding: “I speak as somebody who was chair of governors for 22 years in a local primary school, the relocation is likely to impact on the children’s education.”

The council’s report, published ahead of the cabinet meeting, had also referenced concerns about potential impacts on both future admissions and current pupil numbers, due to the risk some parents may not want their children to attend the new site. A council spokesperson previously told the LDRS that there had been “no impact” on admissions.

Earlier in the session, Cllr Alex Sanderson, Cabinet Member for Children and Education, confirmed the intention is for Flora Gardens students to be moved into the Lena Gardens site during the holidays next summer, following the latter’s refurbishment. The school had highlighted in its letter to parents that it will be exploring the idea of a walking bus, which children can join for the journey to the new location.

Ben Lynch - Local Democracy Reporter