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Bancroft aims to beat off PFI with Pimlico School scheme

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John Bancroft is working up a serious, rival refurbishment scheme in a bid to thwart Westminster City Council's controversial pfi proposals to demolish and replace his 1968 Pimlico School.

Bancroft told the aj he was preparing to present to a meeting at the school later this month his plans to solve the building's famous solar gain and acoustic problems by working with experts in the field, rather than allow his creation to be bulldozed. Bancroft is working with Alan Baxter, a keen admirer of the building, on structurals, Max Fordham, who is to 'mastermind' the solar glare problems, and Derek Sugden of Arup Acoustics. Bancroft said Sugden would work on how to treat the important, highly regarded music centre - a solution is likely to involve raising the roof and narrowing the existing hall. Meanwhile Bancroft hopes to design a 'sufficiently attractive and versatile' separate new building to house the similarly respected drama department of the school on the Lupus Street frontage of the site, perhaps funded by a Lottery grant from the Arts Council. Although no qs has yet been brought in to cost Bancroft's proposed refurbishment, it is thought that the scheme could be carried out for less than £8 million, a fraction of the bids being prepared for demolition and rebuild by Percy Thomas Partnership and Ellis Williams - the cheapest of which is understood to be around the £22 million mark. Those practices are the final two in the bid to design what was Westminster's 'pathfinder' Private Finance Initiative. A winner is expected to be chosen this summer.

Rob Hughes, an architect anarent governor at the school, will be chairing the meeting at the school at which Fordham, Baxter and Bancroft will be presenting the ideas. The meeting has been arranged by the teachers' union the nut, in conjunction with the psa, the Pimlico School Association, which is made up of teachers, governors and children.

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