Parents have been left outraged after a Bromley Council committee rejected the creation of a new primary school - leaving their children without a school just six weeks before the start of term.
Mothers and fathers say they had no idea there were issues with the proposed Beckenham Harris Primary Academy, on the site of Harris Academy in Manor Way, until they received phone calls earlier this week.
Their children had been offered places at the school - through Bromley Council school admissions - in April.
On Tuesday (July 22), The Harris Federation informed them a council planning committee had rejected a planning application to build temporary classrooms for the school, so the school could not open.
This was despite council planning professionals recommending to councillors they approve Harris' request for the small-scale structure at the site.
Committee members say they came to the decision because of fears over increased traffic in the area.
With a great demand for school places in the Beckenham area, 30 children now have no school for September.
These children now have no school place for September
Alex Pope, 43, of Eden Park, and wife Jo, intended to send three-year-old daughter Esme to the school.
He told News Shopper: "We all thought this was going ahead - we were all invited to the school just 10 days ago to try on uniforms.
"The first we heard of any problems with the planning was when we got the phone call.
"The whole thing is completely farcical - if there were planning issues, how did it ever get to this stage?
"All other schools are at capacity. We don't know where our daughter will be going to school.
"We are being let down by Bromley Council and by Harris."
Polly Sell, 36, of Fairfield Road, who was planning to send four-year-old son Oscar to the school, said: "I am absolutely flabbergasted. I was upset before, now I am just angry.
"I chose this school because I thought it was the best choice for my son. We've bought his uniform.
"It seems crazy. Surely the future is everything - giving young children a good education from day one is so important.
"My faith in the council has been damaged. I even thought of moving."
News Shopper has received e-mails in which Councillor Peter Dean, who was on the committee, states he and other members of the committee were not aware school places had been offered to pupils when they made the decision.
Mrs Sell added: "Harris Academy have been working with Bromley Council education department for last two years to bring this school about, however councillors didn't realise how far the school had come.
"How they can base their decision on information they haven't received I don't know."
Polly Sell (left) and Nadia O'Hare both intended to sent their children to the school
Another angry parent, Joanne Walters, 41, of Forster Road, said: "It shows incompetence through and through.
"The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing.
"I already have a son at Balgowan School so I could have sent my daughter there. However I believed Harris to be the better option.
"Our children's education is the most important thing to us. We all went with Harris - that is the choice we made for our children.
"Any alternative schools may not be suitable. They may not be close by.
"We may not be able to do the school run. We can't put four-year-old children on a bus."
A Harris Federation spokesman said: "Although it would theoretically be possible for us to appeal the application we have been advised that it would take at least four months for an appeal to be considered.
"We feel it would be irresponsible and unfair on the children to keep families with places holding on until then, when there is a considerable risk the school will still not be able to open.
"We have never before had to take a decision like this and to have been forced into this position now, at such short notice for families, is extremely sad and upsetting.
"We know children were looking forward to the new school, which had a great team of teachers and leaders raring to go."
Councillor Richard Scoates, chairman of planning sub-committee, said: "As permission was being sought for 120 pupils and over 80 additional parking spaces, the committee noted that the application would have represented a cramped and substantial intensification of use of the site.
"The committee rejected the application because of this and the increased traffic generation and parking pressure."
Executive Member for Education Councillor Stephen Wells said: "In common with all London local authorities, Bromley is experiencing extreme pressures on the availability of primary school places at this time and has been working extensively for some time to seek the 500 plus extra places required particularly in the north of the borough.
"We have a range of contingencies in place and we are now exploring these."
UPDATE: Bromley Council says The Unicorn School, Creswell Drive, will be taking the 30 pupils affected by this in September, in addition to the pupils already allocated places at the school.
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