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Government defends demolition plans for Victorian schools in face of unrest

The Government is backing its controversial Building Schools for the Future programme, despite growing unrest over the demolition of 'beautiful Victorian buildings'.

The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) has publicly supported its programme that will see hundreds of Victorian schools demolished, rather than refurbished.

In a statement, a DfES spokesperson said: 'Victorian school buildings have served generations of pupils and teachers very well but many cannot meet the needs of the end users in terms of physical accessibility and accessibility to a modern curriculum.

'We have a unique opportunity to tackle a generation of under-investment in our schools and provide children and teachers with the 21st-century facilities they deserve.'

However, despite the statement, local campaigns and heritage charities such as the Victorian Society, have been gaining support.

Stephanie Eaton, a Liberal Democrat councilor in Tower Hamlets, is campaigning against the demolition of an ER Robson-designed school, and has forced the application to a Cabinet review.

She said: 'They might think they are cracking on with their plans, but the issue is being referred to Cabinet.

'In all honesty we are not confident we can stop the demolition, but we might be able to meet a compromise.

'There is no need to demolish this beautiful Victorian building. It could be turned into luxury flats, but they [the council] will not listen. The whole thing has been really botched up.'

by Richard Vaughan

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