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Pimlico School reprieved after governors' U-turn

Governors at Pimlico School have sounded the death-knell for the controversial pfi demolish-and-rebuild project, by rescinding their agreement to support the project.

In a meeting on Monday evening, governors at the school voted by eight to six to oppose the project - Westminster's 'pathfinder' pfi - thereby overturning a decision they made last July. Home secretary Jack Straw, who until recently was chairman of the governors, was one of the governors presumed to have opposed the change of direction.

The withdrawal of support in effect terminates the project after what has become a long, deeply political affair which has drawn objections from the cream of the architectural community. Opponents of the luxury housing proposed for the site, designed by Ellis Williams for the St George's Square consortium, scored a victory last week when Westminster City Council's planning committee asked the practice to return to the drawing board.

But now, with the withdrawal of the governors' support, the council looks set to lose backing from the Treasury and the DfEE. Westminster has said on many occasions that it would not go ahead with the project without the backing of the governors.

Now an ad hoc group led by architect/parent/ governor Rob Hughes will explore alternatives, beginning by updating the exhaustive condition survey in Westminster's 1995 feasibility study. 'There's been no wholesale discussion about what we actually want, what's needed and what can be afforded,' said Hughes. They then could approach the DfEE to finance £4-£5million of basic cladding work to rectify the solar gain problem, establish a maintenance programme and apply for a lottery grant to improve and upgrade the recreation space.

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