“More space is needed for the school to work successfully and either the commercial element should be substantially scaled back or better still removed altogether from the scheme.” This is what the RBKC Architects Appraisal Panel (AAP) has to say about the office building John Lewis are planning to build on about a quarter of today’s school grounds.
According to the borough’s website, the Panel consists of distinguished and experienced professionals with a wealth of knowledge about the area, meeting regularly to consider and advise upon major development proposals.
The AAP has reviewed John Lewis’ redevelopment proposal twice and pointed out several architectural issues with the project. Their main criticism is directed at the commercial building planned to replace today’s nursery and part of the playground. Here is more from the AAP’s January 2013 report:
“The land-take for the new commercial development compromises the school layout, circulation, connections and overall character. […] It was felt also that the commercial building could only have a marginal value in development terms and if RBKC chose to retain it on site then the Panel would need to have further details of the commercial reasons for this.”
Recommendations to remove the commercial building were not taken into consideration, as the AAP’s second report from March 2013 indicates:
“The AAP is disappointed that little progress had been made following the earlier presentation and that the outstanding issues remain unresolved.” […] “The commercial building is squeezing the new public realm and the opportunity for the architecture to properly deliver the concept and benefit from the clever plan form.”
According to the planning application documents, the response of the RBKC to these criticisms is that “the commercial building is a full part of the development brief” and that it has already been endorsed by the borough’s education department.
So why does the RBKC insist so much on taking away a quarter of the land from our expanding school and turning it into a five-storey office building? We’ll be looking for an answer from them over the next few days.