Trust behind scheme to transform Kneller Hall into private school promises to open up facilities to community
By Rory Poulter
24th May 2023 | Local News
The Education Trust behind the multimillion-pound scheme to transform Kneller Hall into a private school insists it will open up its facilities to the local community.
This will include bursaries for children at local primary schools and a promise to share its sports fields and changing rooms.
Nub News revealed recently how the scheme faces opposition from the countryside campaigners at CPRE London because it does not include a new public park for all to use.
The public park scheme was included in a proposal drawn up by Richmond Borough Council for the future of the listed building, which was formerly home to the Royal School of Military Music.
However, following the sale of the building and 30-acre site to Dukes Education Trust, the organisation now intends that – instead – the area will be turned into sports fields for the private secondary school for around 1,000 pupils.
The Trust, which currently operates Radnor House School, in Cross Deep, Twickenham, had hoped to start operating from Kneller Hall as soon as this September. However, this has now been pushed back to September 2024 to allow for negotiations with Richmond Council over the scheme and planning application.
The scheme has the support of a number of community sports groups, which have been promised access to the new sporting facilities, which will also include a swimming pool.
The Dukes Education Trust is trying to mitigate concerns raised by the CPRE London and others by offering to work with locals.
The organisation said: "Our proposal will safeguard the future of the listed Kneller Hall by providing major investment to transform the listed building for educational use while delivering significant benefits locally.
"We will be working with local primary schools to offer full and partially funded Kneller bursaries and we will also continue the tradition of inviting local residents to concerts, plays and events held by the school, including those at the bandstand.
"We will be entering into a Community Use Agreement with the council to make a commitment to providing access to the facilities at the site for community groups and local schools in the evenings, at weekends and during school holidays. This will include the indoor and outdoor sports facilities, the school hall and the forest school."
CPRE London and some residents have also raised concerns about an increase on traffic on local roads during school drop-off and pick-up times.
The Trust responded, saying: "Measures to address traffic and parking are being discussed with the council and Transport for London in order to ensure that there is no unacceptable impact on highways safety.
"The School Travel Plan will manage pupil and staff travel with the school operating a school bus and encouraging pupils to travel by sustainable modes of transport."