One of Britain’s leading private schools should leave its home at the Barbican Estate in central London, residents have said.
The City of London School for Girls has drawn fresh criticism from residents of the renowned Grade II* listed estate, where it sits beside concrete housing blocks in the ‘brutalist’ architectural style.
The £18,300-a-year school, whose alumni include Claudia Winkleman and singer Dido, revealed earlier this year its plans to build a kitchen and dining hall under 64 flats in Mountjoy House.
Vivien Fowle, who has lived on the Barbican for 16 years, said: “It will cause huge inconvenience to us with the building, and then the noise and the smells from extractor fans when it’s built.”
The pensioner added: “If they want to expand and want to have more pupils and earn more money, then they should move. But they are imposing these plans on us.
“If I wanted to have an extension on my flat, I would have to build onto my balcony, and I’m obviously not allowed to do that. So why should the school be allowed to expand?”
Another Barbican resident, Shelagh Wright, said: “There’s a strong feeling among residents that the school should move. Clearly it’s going to need to extend again.”
Others have called the plans an act of “vandalism” towards the area’s distinct architecture.
The school has said kitchen fumes will be treated to remove smells, and directed away from flats.
At a meeting of councillors on July 18, it was agreed that the City of London Corporation, which helps fund the school, will provide a loan of more than £15.3 million for the controversial development.
But the loan was only agreed in principle. And the school, which is ranked in the top 10 in the country, must first get planning permission from the CoL’s planning committee.
Opinion between councillors, including some who live on the Barbican Estate, was divided. And the decision was made by a small majority.
Councillor Tom Sleigh said the CoL should stop funding the school. “I have long thought we should get out of the business of running schools,” he said.
Councillor John Tomlinson said further changes to the Barbican estate could bring “repercussions from public opinion and the architectural press, and bad PR”.
Catherine McGuinness, Chair of the Policy and Resources Committee, said: “I do urge members to support this motion. They are not asking for approval of the scheme, that will go to the Planning Committee in the usual way…
“They did make their case and assured us the money would be repaid.”
A spokesperson for the CoL previously said: “The City of London School for Girls values its place at the heart of the Barbican and looks forward to continued collaboration with the community.”
The school was rated “Outstanding” by the Independent Schools Inspectorate and also receives donations from companies in the Square Mile.
By Owen Sheppard