Kuhn Way

15 Jun

FGCS site plan

Proposed site plan for Forest Gate Community School. Present location of Kuhn Way footpath highlighted

As I’ve previously blogged, Forest Gate Community School is expanding. It will add an extra 2 forms of entry (60 extra children) each school year from September 2019. 

In order to accommodate the eventual 300 extra students, new classrooms and other infrastructure needs to be built. The school has applied for planning permission for two alternative schemes. Its preferred option would see the closure of part of Kuhn Way, the footpath that currently separates the main school building from an outdoor sports area.

Kuhn Way provides a pedestrian and cycle route directly between Station Road and Forest Lane. Without it, residents in the ‘Lanes’ area north of the school will have to walk around via either Woodgrange Road or Field Rod to access Forest Gate station or the shops. 

The school claims Kuhn Way is dangerous and home to crime and antisocial behaviour. Writing in support of the application, the Head of School says that having

a public walkway though the school [is] …an unusual and inconvenient arrangement.

An inordinate amount of time and resources are spent by the school on monitoring and policing activity in the walk way

and that:

The school, particularly in recent years, has provided a sanctuary for the pupils from the pressures they face in an increasingly dangerous neighbourhood.

This is not a view of Forest Gate shared by the majority of local residents, many of whom who use the walkway on a regular basis and object strongly to the school’s attempt to take it over. One wrote:

claims that the alley is a crime hotspot are … without substance. The crime statistics for the last twelve months do not show excessive issues and due to the way that the statistics are reported, I believe that those recorded as “Around Kuhn Way” do not cover just the alley but also the sections of Kuhn Way which is a road, including those bits running behind the businesses on Forest Lane. As a member of staff at the school pointed out to me, the notion that gangs are regularly passing drugs or weapons to pupils through the fencing along the alley is laughable and completely ignores the extensive stretches of open fencing along the other perimeters of the school.

And, far from being a little-used and crime-infested alley, Kuhn Way

is still used by hundreds of people through the week and at weekends, not only for work – which lots of people use it for because its opposite the station – but for shopping and just going out generally. The people that use it are abled, disabled, young, old, mums with children and many others. This would leave some residents house bound, as the so-called ‘short cuts’ are not short and in another case long and down a very narrow alley. (Link)

This claim of a high level of use is backed up by the Transport Assessment of the proposal, which counted a total of 3,396 pedestrian journeys between 7 am and 9 pm on a typical day. That works out a roughly one every 15 seconds.

And others agree that the idea that it will take elderly residents just an extra 1-2 minutes to use the alternative routes is “ridiculous.” Also, it will cause “enormous inconvenience” to users of Forest Gate station.

A consultation meeting was held in late March, although this appears to me to have only been advertised via the school newsletter, so most residents without a child on roll were not aware of it. Some who attempted to attend say they were prevented from entering the school.

On 19th April the council sent a letter out to residents asking for comments on the version of the plans that included keeping Kuhn Way open. There was no reference to the closure proposal.

Nonetheless, residents are campaigning against the proposal. 

A local resident has collected over 1500 signatures from surrounding streets opposing the closure but this is not yet reflected on the council website despite it having been submitted to them. Flyers have been distributed locally with an update on the situation and local councillors have been lobbied.

The application was expected to come before the Strategic Development Committee on 19th June but now the agenda has been published it is not there. But, as building works are planned start this summer a dec.sion needs to be taken,

Whatever your view of the expansion of Forest Gate school (at a cost of £11.8m), removing public access to Kuhn Way looks like a bad idea. The school can build additional classrooms without doing this. That is the version of the proposal the council should accept.

You can comment on the proposal here.

One Response to “Kuhn Way”

  1. Robbie Gordon June 17, 2018 at 22:20 #

    I would not hold my breath re your 1500 petition We lost our car park in Canning Town with over 2000 signatures gathered in less than a week. But keep fighting it might pay off under the new administration.

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