Row over retrospective permission for expansion of Muslim primary school

Apex Primary School in Argyle Street, Ilford.

Apex Primary School in Argyle Street, Ilford. - Credit: Archant

A row has erupted over the expansion of an Ilford primary school, which has more than doubled its capacity without permission.

Apex Primary School was allowed 48 pupils when it moved to its current premises in 2010 but now has around 110.

The Islamic school, in Argyle Road, has launched a retrospective planning application for the increased number of pupils, evening and weekend use and more break times, although the form said the changes date back to September 2010.

Governor Mohammed Asif said: “There have been a lot of changes to the building and we were waiting for them to settle down before putting the application in.

“There is a huge shortage of primary school places in the borough and we just want to be able to function like any other school in Redbridge.”

The application is still under consideration but more than 220 representations have been sent in from nearby residents, pupils’ parents and people associated with the school.

More than 130 identical letters of support were sent in one batch, with spaces for hand-written names and addresses.

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A letter from the Ilford Muslim Society said the restrictions imposed on Apex Primary had been “unfair and impractical”, while others highlighted the borough’s recent shortage of school places.

Most residents of homes surrounding the school asked for the application to be refused, complaining of noise and traffic from the school.

Petitions both for and against the application have been submitted.

Syrie Peters, 59, who lives next to the school, organised a petition opposing it.

She said: “I used to love my garden but now I can’t bear to be in it because of the screaming.

“I’m ill and I can’t sleep because of the noise, all of this has got too hard to bear.”

The school was at the centre of another planning row earlier this year, when the Local Government Ombudsman found Redbridge Council at fault in allowing a 4m high extension to tower over homes.

It has now started an enforcement investigation over the number of pupils enrolled at the school, which is in a converted house in a residential street.

A spokesman said: “As with all enforcement investigations, the council will wait for the outcome of the application before taking further action.”