Islington primary school allowed to keep new rooftop playground – despite not asking for planning permission

Prior Weston Primary School. Image: Google

A new playground at an Islington primary school can remain – even though it failed to ask for planning permission before it was built.

Prior Weston School’s headteacher apologised for the oversight at a recent planning committee, which agreed to a retrospective application rather than asking the school to demolish the wooden rooftop space.

The outdoor playground on Whitecross Street sits close to the Grade II*-listed Ben Johnson and Breton Houses, as well as a local conservation area.

It follows another case at the school last year where retrospective planning permission was needed. The school was allowed to keep eight playground floodlights when it had only been given permission for four. Councillors agreed that the school could keep the extra lights after hearing that advances in technology will limit their glare.

The new rooftop playground is also used by pupils from Richard Cloudsley School for children with physical disabilities and sensory needs. The play equipment and pergola can be reached by a lift.

Richard Cloudsley also uses it for a Saturday school, and a small number of families use the site during holidays.

Prior Weston headteacher Fiona Maccorquodale took over halfway through the scheme and apologised as “we were not aware that planning permission was required”.

She said the new playground is more inclusive than the playground it replaced.

An objector was concerned about noise.

The council’s planning team did not believe there would be any significant noise as the equipment is similar to the old playground.

Maccorquodale said there were meetings with residents to avoid problems such as noise, adding: “The feedback from them has been increasingly positive.”

She said there is an eight-foot-high green wall designed to tackle pollution which also blocks some noise.

On the school website, she said Prior Weston is a ” special place in a unique location”.

Cllr Hannah McHugh (St Mary’s and St James’) said she thought the conditions should be altered to allow use all year round.

She added: “It seems that it’s being used for good purposes.”

Committee chair Dave Poyser said: “I think it’s a godsend for parents to be able to be able to leave their kids, and school holidays should be included.”

The planning committee agreed the equipment could stay and be used between 8am to 8pm on weekdays and from 9am to 6pm on Saturdays.