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Parents' anger at plans to expand 'crowded' Holly Park Primary School in Friern Barnet
Plans to expand a primary school in Friern Barnet have met pleas of opposition from parents who say the school is already overcrowded.
Holly Park Primary in Bellevue Road is one of several schools earmarked for expansion by the local authority, which is looking to provide more than 3,000 extra places by 2018.
But one group of parents says the school is already at capacity and claims there is no room to expand the buildings, which sit among a maze of tight residential roads.
The council wants to increase the school from a two-form entry to a three-form entry, gradually expanding from 420 to 630 pupils.
Sonya Karafistan, a mother-of-two from Beaconsfield Road, is leading a campaign opposing the plans.
She and a number of other parents are full of praise for the school and its teachers but are concerned that an influx of additional pupils will lead to a drop in standards.
She said: “It is already overcrowded and it is a frightening thought that they might try and squeeze more children in.
“We want to preserve the intimacy and atmosphere the staff have worked so hard to create.”
Opponents have also raised fears over traffic levels and parking problems in what they say are already cramped surrounding streets.
Holly Park’s headteachers and many of its governors fully support the expansion and a public consultation into the plans ends today.
Requests from parents to extend the deadline were rejected by the authority and some they feel they are being asked to say yes or no to plans they have not yet seen.
Mother-of-two Kirsty Blenkins, of The Crescent, said: “We haven’t even seen the proposals and some parents haven’t received a copy of the consultation.
“The council told us yesterday that they will not be holding a public meeting – it feels like they’ve already made the decision.”
Barnet Council this week announced its intention to extend five other primary schools in the borough, while planning permission for another was granted on Tuesday.
The move will create an additional 1,500 primary school places but schools portfolio holder Councillor Andrew Harper says the authority will not place pupils where there is no room.
He said: “I know Holly Park is at capacity and that it is a popular school but one of the challenges is that some of these schools are on tight, contained sites.
“People don’t want to see schools change and they don’t want them getting any bigger but it is unfair for us to deny other parents in the area a chance to send their children to these schools.”
Barnet Council will now collate the results of the consultation before looking to enter planning permission for an extension to the school if the move is approved.