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Pimlico School back on the agenda at Westminster

The prospective pfi developer of Pimlico School is trying again, despite the school governors' recent vote of no confidence in the project.

The St George's Square Consortium, which includes Ellis Williams Architects, is ready to reapply for planning permission to knock down the famous 1970 school and replace it with new facilities and luxury housing.

The backers of the controversial project are aiming to resubmit a planning application on 12 April, after which there will be a further 21-day consultation period before it goes to Westminster's planning committee on 20 May. Westminster's pfi sub-committee called an emergency meeting on the matter for yesterday (7 April).

The council is determined to proceed with the pfi proposals, which are a 'pathfinder' initiative for the government, despite the vote by the governors which appeared to have killed the project. Westminster even considered a judicial review of the governors' decision.

The Department for Education and Employment has now written to Westminster warning that it might withdraw its £25 million backing for the scheme if governors continue to be unsupportive but that the governors should seek an alternative. In its 24 March letter, seen by the aj, the dfee's Nick Tomlinson, of the Schools Private Finance Team, said it would be 'unwise' for Westminster to proceed without the backing of the governing body, and that if it did the dfee and Treasury Taskforce would be concerned about whether the project was 'deliverable'. However, the governors have written to the dfee to argue against the department's view that rebuilding is still the 'most rational option', saying that the project is a proven failure because after three-and-a-half years of 'exploration', no successful bid has yet emerged.

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