New building will not meet CO2 standards, council doesn’t mind

One of the main grounds for rebuilding Marlborough School is the poor energy efficiency performance of the old building, we have been told repeatedly.

It’s therefore a surprise to find that the proposed new school fails to meet the London Plan CO2 reduction requirements by a considerable margin.

“Overall the proposal is expected to deliver a reduction of 2 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year in regulated emissions, compared to a 2010 Building Regulations compliant development,” says the position of the Greater London Authority on the redevelopment project. (the document can be seen here, scroll to page 114)

According to the GLA, this is equivalent to an overall saving of 2%, which would fall short of the current 25% reduction target for non-domestic buildings in London Plan Policy 5.2.

The RBKC council are willing to compromise, however, as they have a huge financial stake in the project. A private developer is about to carry out construction works worth £26.5 mln for them, also freeing up expensive land off Marlborough school’s playground for commercial use.

“For the Marlborough school and commercial building site the Mayor has asked the local authority to consider securing a financial contribution in lieu of the shortfall in carbon savings,” the Planning and Development Committee report says.

“The Borough does not have a carbon off-set fund nor does it have any policy on which to base a contribution. A contribution would not be necessary to make the development acceptable and would not accord with s122 of the Community Infrastructure Regulations,” the report continues.

And indeed it would be awkward if the Borough were to seek compensation for the inadequate energy performance of a building owned by themselves, wouldn’t it?

Just don’t let anyone tell you our Victorian school is being sacrificed for the sake of cleaner air and curbing climate change. The real motivation is profit.

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And there will be NO affordable housing

You may have read media reports saying the Clearings development on Draycott Avenue will include affordable housing. This is not true. The new residential project, which involves the demolition of Marlborough School, will not provide a single square meter of affordable housing. All of it is luxury property to be sold for maximum profit. This is evident from a number of project documents available on the RBKC website.

“The application has been submitted on the basis of 100% market housing with no on-site affordable floorspace,” states one of the background reports of the Major Planning Development Committee. This is in obvious contradiction with the London Plan and the RBKC’s own Core Strategy, which require all new developments to provide 50% of their floor area as affordable housing. Where less than 50% affordable floor area is proposed, Core Strategy policy CH2 states it must be demonstrated that the maximum reasonable amount of affordable housing is provided.

None of this is the case with the Clearings development, initiated by John Lewis. Their multi-million project is subject to special treatment by the RBKC as the borough itself has a major stake in it. The developer has therefore been allowed to offer 100% market housing on the condition that they cover the costs for tearing down our school and building a new one.

“The proposal would fund the cost of the interim school and new Marlborough Primary school in lieu of on-site affordable housing (£26,500,000),” the committee’s background report continues. “The provision of the interim school and new two form entry primary school would represent a significant public benefit that would justify no on site affordable housing in accordance with policy CH2.”

It is later agreed that any amount saved from the construction works will be paid into the councils affordable housing fund.

In other words, the developer is allowed to get away with zero rather than 50% affordable housing. In return they must demolish a historical building full of kids and size down its plot, freeing up extra premium land for commercial development.

Please, sign the petition to stop that!

John Lewis Sell Project to Property Development Sharks

John Lewis are no longer the owner of the Clearings site, whose redevelopment plans include the demolition of our school. This has become clear from a number of articles in the press. The entire project has been sold and the company does not have anything to do with it any more. According to the Telegraph, the price they claimed for it was £ 200 million.

Media articles link the deal to sports tycoon Mike Ashley, owner of Newcastle United and founder of Sports Direct. None of them, however, name the source of that information or have been able to confirm it. Officially the site has been sold to McGrove Securities Ltd, a brand new company registered ad hoc in February.

According to company information databases, it is a joint venture between major property developers McLaren and Citygrove. The new company does not seem to have offices or a functioning website yet and its only contact information is its registered address – the same as that of Citygrove. We have not been able to make any contact with the new owner so far.

Marlborough parents have not been informed about the sale, even though it went through in April. That means that in a few weeks our children will be moved to a warehouse facility owned by a commercial entity we have no information about and no contact with. We have not been given any details about the state of the new premises nor been allowed to see them.

It also means that John Lewis initiated the whole project with the intention to cash out as soon as they could. Rebuilding our school has been just an excuse for them and for the council to go ahead with a luxury residential development project at the expense of smaller school grounds and the loss of our precious historical building.

Please sign the petition to stop the demolition, your signature could make the council re-examine their plans.