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Piercy & Co gets thumbs-up for renovation of Victorian poor school

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Councillors have approved Piercy & Company’s plans to refurbish and extend a Victorian building in Clerkenwell to create a hotel, flexible workspace and affordable homes

Camden Council’s planning committee granted consent for the London practice’s Vine Hill scheme, which centres on the 19th-century Ragged School building.

The project, in Hatton Garden Conservation Area, will involve demolition of the three-storey rear extension to the east elevation of the former education centre for destitute children and erection of a triple-floor extension on the other side.

As well as internal works to the building, which is currently mainly disused office space, windows will be replaced and a new entrance created on Vine Hill.

An eight-storey block will be built on the site of an existing car park east of the building, providing a 146-bedroom hotel and nine flats. Four of these will be three-bed homes for social rent while the other five will be one-bed apartments for intermediate rent.

Local residents groups opposed the scheme on grounds including height and impact on traffic. Concerns were also raised about other issues, including the creation of hotel rooms without windows.

Planning officers said the scheme would ‘enhance the character and appearance of the currently undervalued site’ and not harm the character or appearance of the conservation area.

They added that the proposals were acceptable in transport terms subject to conditions, and that there were no amenity standards for hotels and only a ‘minority’ of rooms were without windows.

Piercy & Company said its hotel featured a ‘contemporary but heavily textured deep façade’ of folding cast masonry piers.

‘This play of shadows, angles, glass and pigmented stone is set against a view of the Ragged School’s historic and distinctive crenelated tower, which itself acts as a pivot for a series of new publicly accessible external courtyards inspired by Clerkenwell’s many tightly knit streets and alleys,’ added the practice.

‘Completing the new tripartite composition of buildings is a tall, thin block of affordable housing which benefits from dual and triple aspect apartments with views over Clerkenwell. The building’s three-bay brickwork façade and articulated gable end is redolent of the Georgian terraced housing that used to line Eyre Street Hill on the eastern edge of the site.’

Founding director Stuart Piercy said: ‘This is a sensitive and important site in the heart of Clerkenwell and one of several new boutique hotels by Piercy & Company.

‘The consent is for a complex programme of complementary uses of hotel, workspace and affordable homes. Each has a distinct character that helps the proposal sit within the varied and historic streetscape.’

Work is scheduled for completion in August 2021.

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