Marlborough Primary School, located in Draycott Avenue by Sloane Square, looks set to be demolished and rebuilt despite a petition set up to fight the plans.
The Victorian style building was constructed in 1878 and has been a place of learning for children since it first stood. The school will move to a new site by July, when term finishes, and demolition will begin shortly after. Pupils are expected to move into the new building within two years time.
A petition has been set up by Jane Solomon, a local resident, and within a week it had around 160 signatures. She believes buildings like Marlborough School should be preserved, “It’s a really beautiful building and a fine example of architecture of the period.”
The rebuilt school has plans for a base for autistic pupils as well as a new play area on the roof and terraced playgrounds that will free up more space for children’s recreation time. Ms Finer, the Head Teacher of Marlborough School, said, “There will be a sense of sadness along with excitement, as the day nears it does feel exciting and very real – in a few weeks time that will be it, we’re packing up and not coming back.”
Many residents and supporters of the petition feel the scheme has lacked transparency from the beginning. Vasilena Dotkova, a concerned parent, wrote after news of the redevelopment was first revealed to members of the school’s community, “We weren’t told… that planning permission had not yet been granted [that] the procedure was not complete and the application wasn’t going to be reviewed by the Major Planning Development Committee until November 2013.”
There are also concerns over information in the report being misleading. In the proposal marked out in the 2013 GLA Planning Report, it states that, “The principle of re-providing a primary school with… the opportunity for expansion from a single-form entry to a two-form entry school is strongly supported.” This is in contradiction to the school’s official description which states Marlborough Primary is already a two-form entry school.
The report mentions that there will be “3,034 m2 of office space and 777m2 of retail space” built on the school site, which comparatively dwarfs the 1292 m2 for extra school space. The school will be larger with a 29.5% increase in space, however this will be offset with an increase of 52% more pupils, meaning less space per child.
Vasilena Dotkova summarised the worries in an online article, “The project undoubtedly has some strong points like better energy efficiency and more modern facilities. But we find it worrying that RBKC is giving away public land to a commercial organisation in exchange for works that we pay taxes to finance. And they are doing it even if it means a beautiful historical building is going to be lost.”
The Marlborough scheme is being organised by John Lewis and RBKC, it will include commercial office buildings, private apartments, townhouses and affordable housing. Anyone who wishes to learn more about the petition can check either www.facebook.com/SaveVictorianSchools or https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/Marlborough