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Monday, 18 November 2013


Tomorrow night, a hastily convened meeting of the Major Planning Committee will take place.

Top of the agenda will be a decision to take the wrecking ball to that magnificent Victorian edifice, the Marlborough Primary School.

The Dame leaves aside questions of taste:after all, this council, under the ghastly Nicholas Freeman, conspired to knock down that Victorian masterpiece, the Old Town Hall just hours before it could be protected. 

This time the Dame is 'on the case' ready to rally support for the preservation of one of the few remaining pieces of local Victoriana.
The Victorian Society has already made the strongest possible case for its preservation and has noted that English Heritage has preserved Board Schools of similar vintage and architectural appeal.
An insider tells the Dame......
"The Victorian Society has made strong plea to English Heritage to list the school (1879, extended 1882). 
RBK&C has urged EH not to do so; this despite pleas to members of the MPDC. 
It seems  the English Heritage case officer, David Garrard, is minded to recommend listing and a decision will be taken in next few weeks. The final decision whether or not to list will be made by DCMS. 
Whilst the Planning Officers' report does say EH are considering a request to list, they undermine EH by saying "the existing building is not listed, nor is it within a conservation area. Therefore, planning permission is not required for its demolition". 
Officers don't mention the objection from the Victorian Society, which is quite underhand, as the Society is recognised as the leading authority on Victorian architecture.

Insider goes on to say....'that there is one other comparable building in RBK&C, the Sloane Building in Hortensia Road, a former board school now owned by Manhattan Loft. This building is listed and is even later than the Marlborough, being not Victorian Gothic, but Edwardian Baroque so the logic to list Marlborough is impeccable.'

But here's the odd thing.....

Jonathan Bore, our planning supremo, is fully aware that English Heritage are considering the listing of this piece of bygone magnificence, so why on earth should the Planning Committee seek to preempt the decision of English Heritage?

John Lewis Partnership are desperate to build multi million pound flats on the site of the school and their warehouse, but this should not drive tomorrow's decision. 
Tomorrow, the Committee should use common sense and delay any decision until English Heritage have made's just common courtesy.


  1. very fishy business this

  2. What position will Cllr Freeman take? No room for sitting on the fence - it is the 11th hour

  3. Economics determines political action. Top end residential property values in this area are £4,000 per square foot. A school has zero value per square foot. But if the council re zones it or knocks it down, and creates vacant land, the property vultures make a killing. £100 million paid for the Holland Park School playground. £1 billion paid for three and a half acres of Brompton Hospital land in Chelsea. If we stand back this will continue. Developers will knock everything down and build luxury flats for wealthy foreigners which will remain mostly empty because they are third or fourth homes. Or a safe haven for hot money.

    Our Councillors with tiny brains need to wake up

  4. This is another Lancer Square. Another Notting Hill Gate. Another Chelsea Farmer's Market. There will be more and more developments that choose prime sites in K&C (eg top end residential areas) and get planning permission to knock down schools, hospitals, offices, shops, warehouses, and replace with more valuable residential accommodation. The profits to be made are eye watering. The temptation for brown envelopes to change hands is stratospheric.

    Cllr Paget-Brown and Cllr Coleridge need to take a long hard look at the situation and give some Leadership in the Cabinet. It is going to get much worse because the differential between residential values and commercial values is accelerating very fast

  5. My Mate The Builder19 November 2013 at 08:31

    The developers are on to this one. English Heritage is a slow, pondering, well meaning organisation. But no match for the commercial honchos driving Council Officers with fast decisions. And doing the necessary.

    The way to stop this is for some informed and inspired and determined Councillor with a position in Planning (Cllr Freeman?) to turn Nelsons blind eye and "ask for some more information". And make a quiet phone call to English Heritage and tell them to "get a bloody move on"


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