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Northwood Hills school loses High Court appeal
A NORTHWOOD Hills school has lost its High Court appeal against an order to slash its staff and pupil numbers.
St John's School, Potter Street Hill, had hoped to overturn the order made by Hillingdon Council after it was found to be in breach of a planning condition.
The private school, which is on green belt land, was given permission to build an extension in 2001 on condition that it did not take on more than 350 pupils and 40 full time staff.
But in 2010 it was discovered that there had been 405 pupils attending, with 65 staff, for at least five years.
Headmaster Chris Kelly claimed he knew nothing of the condition and submitted a retrospective application for the increased numbers.
This was rejected, a decision upheld by government body The Planning Inspectorate, which cited traffic problems as one of the reasons.
Residents living nearby had complained of traffic chaos, with reports emerging of tailbacks up to 20 vehicles long at certain times.
A judge at the High Court last week ruled in favour of the council and the school now has a year to comply with the restrictions.
Gatehill Estate resident Mahesh Shah, who has voiced concerns about traffic problems near the school, said: "This is a victory for common sense. I sincerely hope that the school will now accept that it is the end of the road for excuses and will take decisive and immediate action to comply."
Johny Armstrong, chair of governors, said: "St John's School made a recent appeal to the High Court because we firmly disagreed with the way in which the London Borough of Hillingdon had chosen to take planning enforcement action in relation to pupil and staff numbers at the school. We have been very disappointed to find that the court did not uphold our appeal but we respect that decision and will act accordingly.
"At the same time, we will continue with other ongoing discussions with the London Borough of Hillingdon regarding our position within the community. We continue to explore options as to how to meet the council's objectives whilst also seeking to improve traffic flow at peak school hours.
"We hope soon to publish a more detailed response, including the school's plan for the immediate future. Our first priority is, as always, the children and families who attend the school and our teaching and support staff. Many of them, as well as most of our staff, live in the Northwood community and we will ensure they are the first to hear our proposed next steps. I will be writing to them very soon."
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