MORE than £200,000 has been paid out to neighbours of a primary school built on land protected by restrictive covenants - but one branded the sum “ludicrously insufficient”.
People living there originally objected to an application by Brent Council to amend four covenants relating to land where the building took place of Preston Manor Lower School – a two-form entry primary school constructed to expand Preston Manor High School into an all-through foundation school and opened in September 2011.
People in Carlton Avenue East and Elmstead Avenue fought plans to amend the covenants from 1927 and 1928 that blocked the construction of anything that was not a house.
Now, after a long legal process, the council has had to pay up a total of more than £203,500 to around 50 objectors following a negotiated settlement before the council’s application reached the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber).
Jeffrey Deen, 50, of Carlton Avenue East, said: “That school field shouldn’t have been touched, it was supposed to be left.
“We objected to the expansion of the school for a number of reasons, not just that there was a covenant on the land. It was environmental and the building of it wasn’t considered in terms of how many other schools there were in the area.
“It is ludicrous what they did. They used public money to redress what they did. If you built a building in your garden when you weren’t supposed to, the council would tear it down. But it is one law for us and one law for them.
“They have got away with it by paying a few thousand pounds.
“I am not pleased with the outcome – the money is ludicrously insufficient.”
Another objector, who did not want to be named, said: “It has been settled but it wasn’t as much as we were hoping for.
“We have to put up with the traffic from the school every day. It is not sufficient in terms of compensation.
“It has obviously taken a lot of time but it has not been worth the time for the money we have been given.”
Richard Barrett, Brent’s operational director, property and projects, said: “Compensation was £203,500 and legal costs for this complicated application totalled £247,583.
“All of this was funded by the £15 million government grant for the programme, not by Brent Council.
“We recognised from the beginning that objectors would be legally entitled to compensation but were confident that the public interest in creating these much needed additional school places in an area of high demand at a top performing school would justify the decision taken to proceed.
“We have always been mindful of the impact this new school would have on local residents and, taking account of the covenant, are pleased that we have settled amicably without the need for a drawn out court proceedings.
“Since opening, the school has been a success.
“It has been fully subscribed and the building itself has been nominated for an award.”
Druces LLP acted for Preston Manor School during the proceedings but Brent Council agreed to indemnify the school and so will pay the legal fees according to a Freedom of Information Act request response.