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News: Pimlico PFI scheme 'conflicts with Westminster's UDP'

A confidential report prepared by Westminster City Council planners and seen by the aj reveals that it considers that proposals to build the Pimlico School pfi project 'substantially exceed' residential density levels for the area as set out in the borough's udp.

The report was written by the council's director of environment and planning, Tony Lear, as an assessment of what were then the two shortlisted proposals to build the 'pathfinder' pfi scheme. It raises concerns about 'an over- intensive development of the site'; parking pressure related to public use of the new school's sports centres; facades deemed 'inappropriate'; and the loss of sunlight to residential accommodation nearby. Lear was this week officially on 'extended leave' pending discussions with the council.

Meanwhile, governors at Pimlico School are to question the city solicitor and an independent legal adviser over the council's resolution to go to preferred-bidder status on the pfi redevelopment of the school. In July 1997, governors passed a resolution to refuse to accept on-site transition. Following consultation with parents and staff, who proved to be wholeheartedly opposed to the proposals, that resolution was never rescinded. The governors now want to see if the conflicting resolution to demolish and go to preferred- bidder status on the pfi redevelopment, taken in July 1998, was legal.

Last week a parents' meeting at the school attracted 150 people, but according to one source there was no substantial 'pro-pfi' presence. Former chair of the governors Jack Straw had chosen the date of the meeting in September, but could not attend because it conflicted with the Queen's Speech. Governors have also been angered by the council setting the consultation period as 14 December-2 January, which coincides with the school Christmas holidays.

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