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. . . where choice was for politics and conservation

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Letters

Your recent reporting on the saving of Pimlico School failed to address the effect of refurbishment on the ability of the school to continue to function, and the funding method that will provide for £20 million to achieve only marginal improvements in accommodation standards.

The recent news has been presented as an educational triumph and as avoiding four and a half years disruption through rebuilding. It is palpable to anyone involved in construction that refurbishing a working school to rectify complex accessibility, accommodation and environmental issues will be at least as disruptive as a phased development which delivers new classrooms to the highest acoustic standards in 15 months. Parents and governors have been seduced by a notion that the building's defects are easily rectified. At the public meeting where John Bancroft unveiled his 'proposals' (a couple of sketches showing a new 'ziggurat' roof to the hall and some magical enlarging of classrooms within the massive reinforced concrete structure), Sir Colin Stansfield Smith guaranteed that refurbishment would be less disruptive, even though there was no detailed study capable of objective comparison with the rebuilding proposals. Such a pledge can only come from a politician, as it would be dangerous for a professional to make.

This alone demonstrates that the conservation agenda of campaigners has been rebranded as an educational agenda in order to win over the support of parents and governors.

Even though Bancroft's errors are well documented, he feels he is best qualified to come up with a solution. Perhaps he should keep himself busy with the Twentieth Century Society (isn't it the building's greatest supporter? ) as it may be seen as opportunistic to exploit its successful campaign and install himself in a position that was previously decided on merit.

The truth is that the redevelopment of Pimlico has been held up by political issues. Its reasons for halting the project are of a fundamental nature, were known at the outset and would have been more properly addressed prior to a huge investment by the developers and Westminster City Council in what the governors now call 'an exploration of ideas'. I thought responsibility without accountability was the opposite of what we teach children!

Mark Benzie, London E9

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