RBKC Panel of Architects: Commercial building should be removed from the scheme

“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.





Getting renovated – what’s not to like?

The parents and children of Marlborough School first heard about the redevelopment project in the second half of academic year 2012/2013. We were told the school was going to be demolished and rebuilt and that a representative of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea would be coming to explain to us how it was all going to be done.

What we weren’t told was that planning permission had not yet been granted. The procedure was not complete and the application wasn’t going to be reviewed by the Major Planning Development Committee until November 2013. It wasn’t mentioned that the whole project was going to be executed and paid for by John Lewis.

We were told the redevelopment plan included the company’s Clearings site behind the school and that a new commercial building was going to be erected. It wasn’t specified, however, that this new building was going to be private property built on public land owned by the RBKC, nor that it would take the place of what is now the nursery building and part of the school playground:


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Squeezed by the rush for premium property

Marlborough Primary School is a community school on Draycott Avenue in Chelsea. Its Victorian building, erected in the 1870s, is to be demolished in 2015 and then replaced by a new one to accommodate a growing number of students.

The project is being carried out by a private company, which has received permission to build its own commercial site on what is now part of the school playground. The five-storey private building containing expensive offices and shops will squeeze the expanding school to the South. It will be built on public land owned by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

This website is created by parents whose children attend Marlborough School. Our purpose is to sound the alarm on the controversial features of the redevelopment project. We will try to provide as much information about it as we can and do our best to protect the interests of our children and the local community.

This is just the beginning so make sure you come back for more posts about the reconstruction plans and the history of our school. We would love to publish your views of Marlborough’s future or your memories from its past so please contact us to share them!