‘Victory’ as school scraps expansion

Bid to demolish and rebuild sixth-form centre faced strong opposition from estate neighbours

Friday, 10th January 2020 — By Calum Fraser

Barbican association

Banners opposing the school’s expansion are hung from Barbican homes

BARBICAN residents have hailed a victory in their battle to prevent a school from expanding in the Grade II*-listed estate – but the school has warned it will return with another scheme.

Governors at City of London School for Girls have scrapped their plans to expand in the Barbican estate, sparking scenes of celebration from neighbours.

As the Tribune previously reported, the school has been in a long-running battle with residents who say their plans to demolish and rebuild the sixth-form centre and add a new ­science laboratory, design and technology workshop and gym would damage the architectural significance of the ­Brutalist masterpiece.

Jane Smith, who chairs the Barbican Association (BA), said: “It is good news that they have withdrawn their current proposals. We are all very happy about this.

“But we are trying to get a meeting with the City of London to try to consider what is the best way to go forward from here.”

A petition opposing the scheme received more than 3,000 signatures.

A statement from BA said: “The proposed development, the length of a football pitch, would have represented an extraordinarily large intrusion into the unique, Grade II*-listed landscape of the Barbican estate and the governors appear to have recognised that it was unlikely to be granted planning permission or listed building consent in the face of determined opposition by residents and others who care about the estate and its architecture.”

Jane Smith of the Barbican Association

The Barbican was built around 50 years ago after the area was flattened during the Second World War. It is a renowned example of Brutalist architecture and represents a utopian ideal for inner-city living as the near 4,000 residents share the site with the London Museum, the Barbican Arts Centre and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

A statement from governors of the school, which is run by the City of London Corporation, said that the “need for expansion remains”.

The BA statement added: “The school has already expanded several times on its present site and we do not believe it can expand any further within the Barbican estate without doing irreparable damage to its environment.

“The school has clearly outgrown its present location and while we would be very happy to see the existing school remaining as part of the Barbican community, we believe that any further expansion must necessarily take place in an alternative location.

“We believe there are opportunities for expansion very close to the estate.”

A spokeswoman for the City of London said: “The school is reviewing its educational needs as it builds a strategic plan for the next five to 10 years.

“In order to meet those needs, and mindful of advice from the City Corporation planners, the board of governors has decided not to take the expansion plan further in its current form.

“The need for an expansion remains, especially to provide much-needed new STEM facilities, to maximise the educational experiences of the Prep pupils and to provide additional pastoral space.

“We are committed to providing a world-class learning environment for all pupils at the City of London School for Girls.

“The board of governors and senior team will now take some time to establish how best to meet the needs of the school.”

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