Students lose fight to save ‘superb’ Westminster adult education centre

Hundreds of campaigners look set to be disappointed after plans were revealed to move the threatened Westminster Adult Education Service to Lisson Grove.

Almost 700 people signed a petition in July calling on Westminster Council not to relocate the service from its Amberley Road site in Maida Vale.

But, with the new ARK Atwood Primary Academy free school due to move into the Amberley Road building in 2014, the council has confirmed its plan to move WAES to its Lisson Grove office building next summer.

A council report states: “If WAES is provided with sufficient space to relocate the majority of provision at the Amberley Centre and the Ebury Centre [in Victoria] into Lisson Grove and a satellite centre is provided at Amberley as part of the redevelopment of the site, WAES’ long-term property strategy will be achieved – albeit not necessarily with the purpose-built buildings and facilities planned.”

It was originally proposed that WAES would vacate the Amberley site earlier this summer. But the council was forced to delay the move by a year as its search for a suitable replacement premises proved unsuccessful.

The service caters for students aged 18 to 90 and is one of the largest providers of adult education in London.

Marylebone resident Clarissa Dorner attends classes at WAES.

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She said: “We are very much against any move because we have such good facilities at Amberley. It must be among the best adult education facilities in London for sure.

“The petition was all down to making sure that, if it does move, the facilities are just as good in its new home. But it’s hard to see how they will be.”

Fellow student Katharine Hoskyns, of St John’s Wood, said: “We need to know that all the courses are going to carry on and nothing will be cut because of fewer facilities.

“There are a lot of big questions that need to be answered.”

Westminster’s enterprise and volunteering boss Cllr Brian Connell said: “The council and WAES are looking at proposals to resolve the long-standing property issues that WAES has experienced and we hope that a formal decision will be made at some point next week.”

The Lisson Grove building presently houses council offices after the call centre there was moved to Scotland earlier this summer.