DEVELOPERS have been urged to consider building a primary school within Cane Hill to cater for the hundreds of families expected to live there.
Barratt is due to build more than 650 mostly family homes on the site of the former mental asylum, on the southern edge of Coulsdon, during the next five to ten years.
Developers told last week's strategic planning meeting they had no plans to build a school on the site, saying the council's school places strategy for the whole borough would meet the demand.
But with school places already squeezed, there are fears children in the area would have to travel miles to attend school, or end up in overburdened classes or "factory" schools.
Richard Thurbon, chairman of the Coulsdon West Residents' Association, whose children attend local primary schools, said more secondary places were also needed.
He said: "The demographic that is going to be attracted to that sort of development is families and children, and there are no school places to absorb the extra population.
"There needs to be a new primary school, but there also needs to be a new secondary school considered – this is not just a primary school-level issue.
"The quality of the education that has been provided in the south of the borough comes from the fact that there is a more dedicated focus on teaching because of the size of the classes."
Developers expect to pay about £9 million to the council through the new Community Infrastructure Levy, a tax on residential developments.
The money is their contribution for community services and infrastructure, but can be spent anywhere in the borough.
Coulsdon councillor David Osland, chairman of the planning committee, said the council's education department and developers should be working together to "make sure" school capacity was available.
"Local people will not want the children from the Cane Hill site to travel to South Norwood to go to school," he said.
Woodside councillor Paul Scott said: "People like small primary schools, so I would think carefully about actually providing a primary school on this site."
Coulsdon mother Wendy Ager said: "If the Cane Hill development is likely to attract numbers that would fill a small school near the site, it seems reasonable that this should be considered, for reducing travel to school."
Charles King, chairman of the East Coulsdon Residents' Association, would support returning the former Smitham school building, off Malcolm Road, to a primary school.
All a council spokesman would say this week was: "Greater detail will emerge as the Coulsdon Masterplan and Cane Hill planning application move forward."