Anglo-French Marylebone school slammed by residents

A FORMER head of Britain's leading architectural body has told developers planning to build an Anglo-French school in Marylebone they are not welcome . Bryan Jefferson, an ex-president of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA),

Sanchez Manning

A FORMER head of Britain's leading architectural body has told developers planning to build an Anglo-French school in Marylebone they are "not welcome".

Bryan Jefferson, an ex-president of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), has joined a campaign to halt the opening of a private bi-lingual school next to his quiet enclave.

The conservationist lives in St Andrews Mansions - a block of 31 Victorian apartments surrounding a flower-lined courtyard on Dorset Street.


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But he says residents fear that implanting 240 children into an empty office complex at Eldon House, next to their homes, will destroy their peaceful existence.

"It's very tranquil here and has a very special ambience that we all value," said Mr Jefferson, voicing his objections at a meeting to discuss the plans on Tuesday.

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"It's a very enclosed space and a dangerous corner limited to only one point of access.

"The noise implications are horrendous.

"It's all very new to us but there's a view that it will not be beneficial to the area and will not be welcome.

"Most people in St Andrew's Mansions are against the plans and the people who support them are those who will benefit."

His views have been backed by many of his neighbours who branded the project a money-making venture.

Carolyn Brooks, whose flat would directly overlook the school, said: "Do I really want 240 children watching me getting my morning coffee in my nightie and having a bath?

"I have friends who come from all over the world and they just can't believe how quiet it is.

"I can cope with offices but the idea of having this school with all those little children will completely change the feel of this place."

Anna Sanders, secretary of the residents' management committee, added: "It's a commercial enterprise.

"They have obviously run out of room in South Kensington."

Proposals to turn the vacant offices into a school where children between three to 12 years old would be taught in both French and English were presented to residents last week.

It was revealed that the opening hours would run from 7.30am to 5.30pm.

One of the scheme's investors, Thomas Kadri, admitted that an increase in noise was inevitable.

But he defended the plans saying he had a genuine belief in the benefits of bi-lingual education and would send his own son to the new school if it was given the green light.

"The way I see this is we don't want to enter into an adversarial situation," he said.

"So the last thing we want to do is to force or impose something on residents they don't want.

"But residents need to realise that children are children - they will be noisy - although we are more than willing to mitigate any issues as long as the demands are reasonable."

The application to turn Eldon House into a school is due to go before a Westminster Council planning committee on May 17.

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