Janet Bancroft, widow of London County Council architect John Bancroft, attended a heated public consultation at Elliott School, Putney, to hear more about the plans to demolish part of her late husband’s listed comprehensive.
It was the first time the retired teacher had seen the fifties school.
Here she guest blogs about the experience for the BD newsdesk:
Visiting Elliott School was a delight. The building is splendid. It has clarity, dignity and elegance. It seems to express the optimism of the post-war generation.
The consultation was totally opposite. There was no organisation or clarity.
Nobody was at the door to greet the public and explain who was available to be questioned. Not one representative or official had a label to identify them.
There were no independent reports or feasibility studies available. Unlabelled plans detailing 56% of the school designated for sale were displayed with a list of unsubstantiated assertions.
“The classrooms are too small.” Are they? They have been used successfully since the fifties.
“The sports hall is not up to today’s requirements.” Presumably the majority of Britain’s building stock is the same. These standards are for new buildings.
Those attending were frustrated by the total lack of organisation. They wanted Wandsworth Council’s representatives to make their case and give us the opportunity to question them from the floor.
Justine Greening, local Conservative MP minister and a school governor, was tackled on this point.
Emotions became high and Ms Greening turned away, saying: “I’m not listening to this.”
At the time I was talking to the headmaster. He spoke as if selling the land is the only option the school has. Otherwise it will close in September.
Sadly, he may be right. The government withdrew the money already allocated for refurbishment and Wandsworth is insisting it has no funds for repairs.
A representative from Ark, the charity that may become responsible for an academy school on the site, told another attendee that it has already signed a contract with Wandsworth.
Ark’s responsibility for the new school is contingent upon purchase of the designated land for housing and the demolition of part of the school.
Recommendations will be made to councillors on June 11.
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