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Coram Childcare Centre wins the go-ahead at last

Collett & Farmer Architects has finally been given planning for its highly contentious Coram Childcare Centre, in Bloomsbury, central London.

After more than three years of battling, the development has been shown the green light by Camden Council despite a long history of controversy.

Collett & Farmer made its first application in August 2003, but was turned down by Camden councillors, in what the practice claimed was a 'controversial decision, [which came] despite officer recommendation for approval and support from English Heritage and CABE'.

The client, charity Coram Family, appealed, but lost on what Collett & Farmer called 'a minor point, relating to sunlight and daylight to an adjacent building'.

A revised scheme was submitted and the project, adjacent to historic burial ground St George's Gardens, was given the go-ahead.

The 3,700m 2project will replace a number of buildings currently on the site, including a 19th-century swimming pool and a small mortuary building.

The practice said the new 'child and parent centre' will provide 'much-needed' childcare facilities, including a new health centre focused on children's needs, serving more than 600 local families.

The building will be 'highly sustainable', being naturally ventilated, and includes rainwater recycling, as well as solar panels on the roof to 'achieve the highest BREEAM rating as possible'.

The Coram family has been involved in child welfare since Thomas Coram founded the charity in 1739.

Coram is said to have employed the help of many key figures in art and music, including Hogarth, who donated a number of paintings, and Handel, who composed and performed for the charity a number of times.

The scheme is set to go on site in the New Year.

by Richard Vaughan

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