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C20 Society ‘deeply concerned’ over threat to Bancroft’s last surviving work

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The Twentieth Century Society (C20) is ‘deeply concerned’ by plans to revamp Elliott School in Putney, south London – architect John Bancroft’s only surviving work

The Grade II-listed 1954 building could be partially demolished under £22 million proposals to turn it into an Ark Schools academy.

C20 senior caseworker Christina Malathouni said Elliott School (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 added: ‘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 academy vision which could involve demolition of the school’s single-storey design technology workshop block and gymnasiums.

Around 1.6 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.

Ark Schools project manager Catherine Pinder said: ‘Elliott School ,Wandsworth Council and ARK Schools all recognise the architectural importance of the Elliott School buildings, as reflected in their [Grade II-listed] status. We are delighted that the rebuilding project will secure the future of the school and restore the buildings to their rightful state.

‘The project is at an early stage, but the proposal is that the majority of the school buildings will be refurbished and restored for lasting use as a school, not demolished.

‘Conversations are already under way with English Heritage and local conservation officers to ensure that the project is undertaken sensitively and the best use is made of the existing estate, while ensuring that the buildings can continue to be used for educational purposes.’

A Wandsworth Council spokesperson added: ‘The council is committed to providing a range of improvements at this school so that students and pupils have the best possible learning environment and the best possible facilities. We estimate that the school requires an investment of around £22m to deliver these important goals.

‘We are now looking at a range of options to fund these improvements. However nothing has yet been decided and we do not expect to reach a final decision until later in the spring.’

A planning application for temporary accommodation on part of the site is due to be submitted next week. Planning permission for the wider project will be sought later in the year.

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