WHATEVER you think of outside sponsorship of schools and the academy system, you had to feel a little sorry last night for the councillors on Camden Council’s planning committee and the officials who work for them last night. There they were crowded around a model of what the new UCL Academy is designed to look like on the fringe of the Swiss Cottage gyratory. They dutifully spent more than an hour discussing the planning merits of the scheme before – surprise surprise – voting in favour. But they did so without even knowing whether the academy has the vital government support to make it happen. Last night’s efforts could account for nothing if the funding pipe is stopped up by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition.
There is a general confidence that the project will survive the climate of cuts but how many proposed new schools get to this stage in the planning process clouded in such uncertainty?
You could say, well, lots of developments go through the planning approval process and actually for one reason or another never get built. But this is a pretty unique planning application covering a project with huge ramifications locally. It’s not just the education department and UCL that have put hours, weeks and months into this, it’s been a lot of work for the planning department as well.
It’s only fair that everyone knows now whether the academy has Education Secretary Michael Gove’s support or not. The wait is becoming cruel.