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Pimlico School campaigners step up anti-PFI pressure

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Campaigners are stepping up pressure to save London's Pimlico School from pfi redevelopment.

A ballot last week revealed that nine-tenths of parents wanted to keep the original building, with a sunken concrete playground overlooked by walkways. The 1400-pupil complex was designed by glc architects in 1966 and is called 'the greenhouse' after its sloping glass walls.

But pfi proposals could see it bulldozed to make way for a new building. A quarter of the 18,000m2 site may be lost to flats as part of the proposed schemes to replace the school. The two school plans submitted to Westminster Council include one designed by Percy Thomas Partnership as part of the McAlpine Osborne Consortium.

The George Square Partnership aims to replace the school, which has problems of overheating and leaking roofs, with a linear design by Ellis Williams Architects

The project, however, has dragged on for two years. John Bancroft, who designed the building, said at last week's meeting: 'This was a seminal building of the 1960s and can be for the 1990s and beyond.' Professor Sir Colin Stansfield-Smith, former head of Hampshire county architects, said if the school were demolished it would be a dream lost.

Staff and parents are angry that recreation space will be lost to the children, and at suggestions for the children to stay in the four-floor school while demolition goes on bit by bit around them, said a staff member who asked not to be named.

Pevsner's The Buildings of England called Pimlico School 'wild and weird', and the ballot suggests the school remains much loved, said Michael Ball, a campaigner. He said that the council claimed repairs and refurbishment would cost £36 million over the next 25 years. A rebuild would cost £32 million over the same period. 'We question these figures and want the council to have an independent investigation of the alternatives to pfi. This could examine the possibility of refurbishment.'

The council pfi committee and school governors are due to choose their preferred bidder in mid-July. The governors are chaired by Home Secretary Jack Straw, who failed to turn up to chair the meeting, said Ball.

Westminster council refused to comment and has told designers to keep quiet.

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