Elliott School, Putney, Wandsworth, designed by John Bancroft
Architect’s last surviving building, Elliott School in south London, is under threat
Campaigners trying to save what is believed to be John Bancroft’s last surviving building have accused a local authority of rushing plans to demolish it.
Grade II-listed Elliott School in Putney, south London, missed out on a £40 million upgrade by Ellis Williams when the government axed Labour’s school-building programme last year.
Now Wandsworth Council argues that the only way to fund necessary refurbishments is to sell off 56% of the site to a housebuilder.
It has already been marketing the site. The deadline for offers is May 4, some three weeks before the public consultation ends. It is applying to ministers for special consent to demolish a listed building and to sell off playing fields.
Plans drawn up by Hawkins Brown and LendLease involve demolition of the listed gym and technology block as well as part of the listed playground.
Elliott, built in the 1950s, was described as “perhaps the finest of the large comprehensive schools built by the London County Council architects” by Elain Harwood of English Heritage.
It was ascribed to GA Trevett but Bancroft also worked on the school. His most famous building, Pimlico School, was demolished in 2008, three years before his death.
Christina Malathouni, senior caseworker at the Twentieth Century Society, wrote to Wandsworth Council to lodge “deep concerns” about the plans and complaining that it had not been consulted on what appeared to be a done deal.
“The land is already being marketed before they’ve made a case for demolition. It’s not the right way to go about things,” she said.
“This is a very special building. The degree to which it survives intact is amazing. To demolish part of the cruciform plan would need exceptional justification.”
Architect Ed Lattimore, a former pupil who is leading the Save Elliott School campaign, said: “I have always thought it was the most wonderful building and it has since been acknowledged as the most important of all the LCC schools.”
He is drawing up a rival plan to show how a smaller proportion of the site could be redeveloped without damaging the school or its setting.
English Heritage confirmed it was working with Wandsworth but was unable to proceed without “crucial” condition and financial reports.
Wandsworth Council said consultation had only just begun and no decision had been made. The only planning application submitted so far was for temporary classrooms during building work.
“Without this multi-million-pound investment, the building would not be fit for purpose,” said a spokesman.
The threatened area of playground includes an outdoor stage used by many of the school’s budding musicians who include members of the xx, the Maccabees, Hot Chip and Fleetwood Mac.
For more information about the campaign to save the school building, go to http://saveelliottschool.tumblr.com/
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