Letter to Editor: Do they need planning permission for portacabins at SFG College?

Politics / Sun 4th Feb 2024 at 03:36pm

Dear Editor,

The saga goes on at Frederick Gibberd College.
We have had a new school built and condemned as being unsafe.
We have had temporary tents for classrooms said to not be suitable.
We now have a series of three, two and single storey portacabin classrooms being erected on site.

Many have been, too rightly, concerned including parents and politicians from all over. They have condemned the construction problems on this site yet still no one has been called to account. 


The correct process for the erection of portacabins appears to still not been followed. Although Harlow Council has accepted an Initial Notice for this scheme under the Building Regulation, it appears that no planning consent has been applied for with respect to the portcabin buildings.

I have searched and both Essex CC and Harlow Councils websites and asked for guidance from them, but nothing has come to light.

I could not believe that this could have been overlooked. If I am wrong, then I stand to be corrected.

This does not instil confidence to parents that the temporary buildings have had the proper checks and consultations with statutory bodies or that the eventual rebuilt school will be safe for their children.

Yours faithfully

Alan Leverett  

Harlow Alliance Party

Editor’s Note: We all be following up in order to ascertain if permission (even retrospective) is required.

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19 Comments for Letter to Editor: Do they need planning permission for portacabins at SFG College?:

Ross Garrard
2024-02-04 16:40:41

Alan Get your head out your backside and let the bloody kids learn. Anyway who are the alliance party, what authority have u got.

Alan Leverett
2024-02-04 17:40:00

Ross Garrard We are trying to ensure the buildings for your kids education are built correctly and safe. A catalogue of errors have put classroom buildings in the position they are now. We just do not want students put into quick fix buildings that have not been properly checked.

2024-02-04 18:04:52

Seriously Alan, as Ross states let's just get on and educate the children, who cares if it's in portacabins or not, we have become so bogged down on rules and regulations that we have lost sight of what really matters.

2024-02-04 18:12:22

I am a parent. I have two children at the school. We went to parent evening last week and the so called tents were really good. They're like posh wedding markees. Reakly warm as well. And I was well impressed. Portakabins look good too. My oldest was in one when he started SFG and inside it, it was better than most other schools in harlow. So portakabins will be alright. And if you and other politicians want to help the school. Stop red tape and let the school built. Put in a complaint to dofe and essex local authority if you have issues with the building. What are you trying to do with this letter? What does it achieve? Causes drama that's it. Just trying to make a name for yourself in an election year.

2024-02-04 18:29:16

Alan, I have a few questions for you. 1. do you have children at the school? 2. you haven't spoken about the school until now, why do you care all of a sudden? Is it because this is an election year? 3. have you visited the temporary tents? How do you know they are not suitable? 4. do you realise the damage these articles cause? To the reputation of the school and to the morale of the staff, students and parents?

2024-02-04 18:33:51

Good lord. Nothing better to do clearly.

Nicholas Taylor
2024-02-04 19:03:31

As Leader of the Harlow Alliance Party I feel I should respond to the comments made in response to Alan's letter. At the heart of what has happened at the school has been a lack of diligence in respect to the design, materials used, the construction method, the lack of scrutiny throughout the process and indeed anyone taking responsibility, some of which was repeated when the tents were supplied on site. Much of Alan's career was spent in building control, indeed some within Harlow Council. Seeking Planning permission would not have delayed children being taught in the portacabins, but it would have placed some kind of marker and indeed responsibility in the event that some other problems occurred in the future. This omission was only recently noted and we felt it only right to raise the issue. It has nothing to do with politics, just common sense. Nicholas Taylor, Leader of Harlow Alliance

Harry Mitchell
2024-02-04 19:39:53

Why are you raising it here? What purpose does it serve? What are you adding your party's name to it for? None of us add their work name. So don't tell me this isn't political. I really feel for that poor head teacher, do you consider her mental health when you keep writing about her school? I am surprised she hasn't left yet. But then again she is trained by Helena Mills and that woman is a force to reckon with. Together these women will sort this out so you have nothing to worry about Harlow Alliance Party. I'd vote for them two before I vote for you!

2024-02-04 20:38:11

What difference does that make? They had planning permission for the absolute sh1t show they've got to tear down

2024-02-04 20:53:46

I guess resident does have a point - The school that they have or will knock down got through Building Control - Yet another service to add to the list of services that have been hollowed out by this Government. OK, it seems a bit shouty here, but who commissioned the school that had to be knocked down - Was it Helena Mills and the BMAT or the Department for Education? - Who builds schools these days?

James Barrett
2024-02-04 21:18:04

Ross it is the DofE. Trusts just run the schools. Department of Education owns them. This has nothing to do with BMAT. They're just unfortunate enough to be the ones running SFGC. There are 5 other schools built by the same company if I remember rightly. They're all in the same boat. I think at this stage priority needs to be what happens next, yes people want answers but the focus has to be on the kids. And we must stop creating unnecessary drama like this article is doing. I would urge the editor to delete the article which is full of inaccurate information and stop this tit for tat commenting.

Sarah Diggle
2024-02-04 21:29:54

What’s happened to the promised public enquiry!!! Why was it condemned!! Why was it that 2 weeks before my new year 7 son started was I then told the school I’d chosen was not for for purpose !! But yet it April they knew there was issues

2024-02-04 22:25:19

Good grief! Shoot the messenger! Why is there so much scrutiny over who the author is and why they are posting? A relevant sensible question has been asked, and yet almost no scrutiny if the porta-cabins are suitable or safe? "and let the bloody kids learn." I'm sure that was the exact attitude that lead to the original unsafe buildings. Who cares if the buildings will fall down at any minute, at least the bloody kids can learn. What next? Make hard-hats part of the school uniform? At least that way the bloody kids can learn. And drama must be avoided at all costs, because avoiding drama is more important than a safe educating environment. Alan Leverett - keep asking questions.

2024-02-05 00:40:53

No one's saying don't ask questions. Ask them to the relevant authorities. Posting on Your Harlow is going to do sweet FA.

2024-02-05 07:00:06

Hugo, spot on. Ross & Pedro, I can't believe you aren't concerned whether any building the pupils will be learning in is safe, even after the errors with the construction of the permanent building? Emily, relevant authorities have been contacted. It's in the public interest to know this, so apart from Your Harlow interviewing the guy who raised concerns and publishing an article, sending a letter to the editor, which they have published here, seems to be the best opportunity for maximum exposure. Is it politically motivated, possibly? I'd say having experience in this field, I reckon the guy would've been a good citizen anyway. If I had a child at SFG, I'd be grateful this had been brought to my attention, and I'd be following the relevant authorities up to make sure things were safe for my child.

Nicholas Taylor
2024-02-05 08:47:03

Emily, By raising this issue in yourharlow, it is in the public domain and we would hope that if a response is forthcoming, it would come in these pages and therefore be seen by thousands of residents reading yourharlow. It has been suggested by others that we do not need rules, regulations and red tape. I am afraid without them , no-body would be held to account for what has happened with the building of the new school. This is not the first time of course even in Harlow that things have gone wrong with a new school build, Part of Passmores school needed work carried out to stop rising damp, I believe because a damp proof course had not been fitted.

2024-02-05 11:12:53

To Alan and Nicholas, shame you think to put this on yourharlow then say it’s not political and nothing to do with the election year, definitely insulting your voters, let the children learn, they have gone through enough at this school. The head teacher has enough to deal with without point scoring going on, we need parties to work together in this town.

Jane H
2024-02-05 18:05:35

Does planning permission actually have anything to do with health and safety? I thought it was more to do with suitability and impact on surround areas. Plenty of things are safe but have had to be removed or not allowed because of other objections.

Nicholas Taylor
2024-02-06 13:32:31

Jane, if a development does not take place in accordance with plans, this can sometimes mean corners have been cut, which in turn could lead to safety issues. In due course it will be interesting to see if the defective school was built to plan,

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