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Plans for new school set to be thrown out

PUBLISHED: 16:18 09 October 2008 | UPDATED: 15:29 07 September 2010

The architect behind the controversial plans to transform South Hampstead High School has criticised Camden Council for its double standards. Tonight a Town Hall planning committee is expected to throw out the multi-million pound proposals to redevelop th

The architect behind the controversial plans to transform South Hampstead High School has criticised Camden Council for its double standards.

Tonight a Town Hall planning committee is expected to throw out the multi-million pound proposals to redevelop the Maresfield Gardens school, under the recommendation of council officers.

Jenny Fisher, a planning officer, has recommended the committee reject the scheme because the proposed demolition of the school's Victorian main building could not be justified. Ms Fisher also said the scale of the redevelopment would be unacceptable.

But architect Ian Williams, who spent months on the plans, claims her report is full of errors.

"It is full of half truths and untruths," he said.

"We are very disappointed. She has twisted what we have been saying or submitted."

The architect, who works for Haskoll, also blasted the council's suggestion that the educational benefits of the revamp for the school did not outweigh the possible damage to conservation area.

South Hampstead School is just a few hundred feet from the site of Swiss Cottage Special School in Adelaide Road where the council plans to build its own £30million, 1,150-place academy.

"The council hasn't created a fuss about their own school site," said Mr Williams. "How can you stand on a high horse in one location but not in another? It does seem to be a case of double standards. I am bloody angry about it."

Mr Williams, the headteacher of South Hampstead Jenny Stevens and owners The Girls' Day School Trust will be hoping the planning committee go against their own officers' advice tonight.

But Ms Fisher's report has been welcomed by residents.

"The school has two choices," said Dr Mayer Hillman, from the Netherall neighbourhood association.

"Reduce the school role so they don't require more space and can simply refurbish the existing site, or move."

The development control committee will meet at 7pm tonight to make its decision.

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