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School’s floating classroom plan sparks objections from canal neighbours

72-foot boat will be used to teach children about science and technology

16 October, 2018 — By Tom Foot

The towpath in Primrose Hill

A SCHOOL’S bid to set up a “floating classroom” on Regent’s Canal has led to objections from neighbours who fear it will be hired out for disruptive “party bookings”.

Staff at Primrose Hill Primary School are waiting to see if the proposal will be approved by Camden’s planners after coming up with the idea to teach science and technology on the 72-ft boat. The new facility is planned for a spot between the Waterside Place bridge and the school’s nursery garden in Princess Road, which backs onto the canal.

The Canal and River Trust, which runs the canal, has said it will take a “rare” step in granting permission for the permanent mooring of the classroom. The school is aiming to fundraise £80,000 to buy the boat and for operational costs.

In the planning application filed at the Town Hall, headteacher Robin Warren said: “When the barge has been established as our floating classroom we would like to use it as a way of bringing in some much-needed additional funds for the school. Children’s birthday parties, a meeting space for our local residents or even a vessel to be used for trips to the local attractions – are but a few of the ideas we have for generating income.”

This element of the plan, however, has led to objections from neighbours including the Waterside Place Residents Association and other residents who say the school should not be able to hire out the barge in the evenings.

In one objection, published on the council’s website, nearby resident Neil Beard said approving the boat would “legally open the floodgates for all canalside properties to apply and be granted similar property extensions”.

Another objector, Jayne Mitchell, warned that schoolchildren could be put in danger by “speeding cyclists” on the towpath. The objection added: “We have concerns that any ‘community’ activities would take place in the evenings and at weekends, thereby increasing the already significant noise nuisance.” The school has said it will not seek an alcohol licence for private bookings.

Among the supporters of the project, Nikki Haydon and her husband Jim Mulligan, said: “Actually being on the barge would bring alive to them [school pupils] the importance of the canal in the history of Camden. We cannot see anything negative about this proposal.”

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