High Court grants judicial review of plan to open a Catholic primary and secondary in Richmond

Plans for two new Catholic schools in south-west London are under threat after the High Court granted a judicial review of the scheme.

In May Richmond Council gave permission for the Diocese of Westminster to open a secondary and primary school on a site currently used by an adult training centre. But last week the High Court granted a judicial review into the council’s decision following a legal challenge by the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign (RISC), and the British Humanist Association, which claim that the Government’s new Education Act meant the council first had to consider proposals for an academy or free school, which can only enroll a maximum of 50 per cent of pupils based
on their religion. The hearing is expected to start in October.

Lord True, leader of Richmond Council, said he was disappointed by the decision, and said the council’s own survey found 67 per cent of parents and residents supported the move.

Paul Barber, director of education at Westminster Diocese, said: “We are disappointed. Litigation is always an uncertain area, but we’re confident that this has been done properly.”

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Richmond is one of only two London boroughs without a Catholic secondary school despite Catholics comprising more than 10 per cent of the local population, and Mr Barber said they had public opinion on their side. “If you look at the Catholic community, there is an overwhelming desire, and most people support what the Catholic
community is doing.”

He said that while there were “totally understandable” concerns among parents who were worried about finding a place, some people “have an ideological agenda, and it is generally one not shared by most people in Richmond”.

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