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Top shortlist for City Academy despite continuing dispute

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Foster and Partners, Studio E, Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners and Jestico + Whiles have been shortlisted for the controversial £22 million City Academy in Southwark. Meanwhile, the mayor is due to announce today his decision on whether the scheme will go ahead.

The 1,200-pupil scheme, partly backed by the Corporation of London, has been plagued by problems due to its 3ha greenfield site at Paterson Park. Many locals have objected to the loss of the green space, despite it being described as 'a dump'.

The mayor warned the borough in January that he was unhappy with the original scheme and would direct refusal unless the scheme was 'substantially amended' to provide more publicly accessible open space.

However, Southwark council has granted outline planning permission 'with some alterations' and a decision from the mayor is due by today.

Southwark council cabinet member for education Patrick Kelly told the AJ: 'If it is turned down, it will be nothing short of disastrous. It will destroy hope and show there is no belief in the future.'

A spokesperson for Southwark's planning committee said: 'We made an informed decision. There is a degree of nimbyism from those opposing the scheme. This project will regenerate the whole area and create a safe open space as well.' He added that the dispute had heated up last week as local protestors claimed that 'unflattering' photographs of the site were staged by the corporation.

The corporation denies the incident. A spokesman told the AJ: 'We have ensured that the facilities will be accessible to the community - which is something we have stressed throughout the design process. We are optimistic. Southwark has a serious lack of secondary school places - we are trying to do something good here.'

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