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.

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!

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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