A synagogue has applied for permission to increase the number of children attending its kindergarten, as it prepares to submit plans to extend its North Finchley premises.
Finchley Reform Synagogue in Fallow Court Avenue has increased its intake from up to 42 children to 60 children over the past few years, but despite having approval from Ofsted, Barnet Council has not sanctioned the increase.
The synagogue hopes to rectify this at the east area planning sub-committee meeting on Thursday, and has also applied to extend the kindergarten's opening time by 15 minutes in the mornings so that children can be dropped off from 8.15am instead of 8.30am.
While 118 people have sent letters of support to the council, 36 neighbours have signed a petition against the plans and resident Wendy Bernardelle delivered more than 250 individually signed objection letters to the council last week.
Many of the complaints centre around the build-up of traffic which residents say is caused by people attending the synagogue or dropping off their children at the kindergarten.
Mrs Bernardelle, who has lived in Fallow Court Avenue for 22 years, said: “Residents cannot live normal lives due to the high levels of kindergarten-generated traffic and the number of people parking illegally, for example on double yellow lines and over driveways.
“We’re very happy to have such a lovely kindergarten in the vicinity but the site is just too small in a densely populated, highly residential area. They should stick to the authorised number of 42 children.
“We have to plan our lives around the synagogue’s peak times and activities, planning when we go out or have friends to visit, and residents cannot park within a reasonable distance of their home.
"One’s home should be a sanctuary, but it’s just chaos.”
Muireann Couque, who has lived in the road for 17 years and is a member of North Finchley Town Team, is also concerned about the level of traffic the synagogue generates in the area.
She said: “It’s really bad – you cannot get in and out of the bottom of the road at times, and people park on double yellow lines. It’s just crazy, and it’s only a matter of time before a child is killed.”
But the synagogue’s Principal Rabbi, Miriam Berger, has said traffic is just part of living in the area and is not limited to Fallow Court Avenue.
She said: “Being near to a station and shops and schools and nurseries – it all generates traffic. It’s an unfortunate fact of living in this area.
“We’ve been operating with this number of children for many years but the only complaints have been since we began talking about our rebuilding project. I feel this is simply a tool against our rebuilding.”
The synagogue submitted plans to demolish part of the 50-year-old building and erect a modern, two storey extension which would include multi-purpose rooms as well as the existing kindergarten.
But when a total of 159 people objected to the proposals, the FRS called a halt to its plans in order to reconsider neighbours’ opinions on the expansion. A date has not been set for when these plans will be submitted.