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Protest looming over threat to Bancroft’s last surviving work

Campaigners against plans to demolish parts of John Bancroft’s last surviving work, Elliott School in Putney, south London, have pledged to protest against a crucial council vote later this week

Former Elliott School pupil Ed Lattimore – who is leading the campaign – said he expected more than 50 people to attend the protest which is calling for Wandsworth Council’s finance committee to abandon £22 million plans to demolish parts of the Grade II-listed building and sell off 50 per cent of its land.

The GMB and NUT unions will also attend, according to Lattimore.

‘It’s one of the best schools in the country,’ he said.

‘It doesn’t need an overblown plan, it just needs a modest refurb that looks after the grounds.’

Former pupils of the school include rock stars Hot Chip, Four Tet and The XX.

The Twentieth Century Society (C20) said it was ‘deeply concerned’ over the proposal in a letter to the council, claiming the scheme would have a ‘very strong impact on the setting of the listed building’.

C20 senior caseworker Christina Malathouni said: ‘The scheme considered here proposes very substantial demolition of a nationally listed building. The proposed disposal of surrounding fields would also have a very strong impact on the setting of the listed building. Therefore, we are deeply concerned that the wrong message comes across through this report, as if the listed status of the building is a secondary factor.

She added: ‘The significance of the heritage asset at the core of these proposals needs to be brought to the foreground. We urge [the committee] and Wandsworth Council to reconsider the priorities of this scheme and to include immediately a close collaboration with its Conservation Team and all heritage stakeholders on any proposals for this very significant post-war listed school.’

Previously Malathouni said the 1954 building (pictured) was a ‘very rare example of a listed post-war school’ and was ‘recognised as the finest of LCC’s in-house comprehensive school designs both for its overall planning but also for its wealth of decorative detail.’

She said: ‘It is particularly noteworthy as the only surviving and listed sample of John Bancroft’s work, part of his early involvement in the schools division of the LCC, and also for inspiring an interest in architectural education to its students.

‘Any necessary alterations would need to be very carefully designed and early consultation with all stakeholders, including the Society, would be essential if the special significance of this exceptional school is to be safeguarded.’

The school’s design was led by George Trevett of the London County Council (LCC) Architects Department but Bancroft – who passed away in June – worked on the project and the building became the last surviving sample of his work when Pimlico School was demolished in 2006.

Hawkins\Brown is working for developer Lend Lease on the Ark Schools academy vision which could involve demolition of the school’s single-storey design technology workshop block and gymnasiums.

Around 2 hectares of playing fields on the site’s western edge will also be sold off to housebuilders to raise funds for the academy vision.

Elliott School was due to undergo a £40.3 million revamp under the Labour government’s £55 billion Building Schools for the Future programme before it was axed by education secretary Michael Gove in July 2010. Last month the GMB union launched a campaign to halt the transfer of land ownership to local authority Wandsworth Council.

Wandsworth Council would launch a consultation over the plans if approved at the meeting this week.

Cabinet member for Education and Children’s Services, councillor Kathy Tracey, said: ‘We are delighted to be working with ARK Schools and the school governors. This is a terrific opportunity to carry out much needed improvements to this grade II listed building and secure the future of the school.’

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