Residents angry over “shoebox” that will replace heritage Victorian school building

The proposed demolition of a Victorian school building in Maida Vale has been slammed by residents and conservation campaigners.

Westminster Council approved plans on Tuesday to demolish the 19th century buildings on Amberley Road and replace them with a free school and 47 luxury flats.

Fiona Davis, who lives on Amberley Road, said: “I can’t stress enough what a tremendous loss these beautiful, historic buildings would be, both to the street and to the local area and I haven’t spoken to anyone who disagrees.

“The developments are going to ruin this area, and change it beyond all recognition.”

James Hughes, Conservation Adviser at the Victorian Society, which objected to the proposed demolition, said it would have been possible to keep the building.

He said: “It’s a Victorian street, through and through. Replacing one half with a bland modern shoebox will cost not only the school but the character of the area.

“They should remember: once it’s gone, it’s gone. There will come a time when people look back and regret this kind of short-sighted development.”

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The building is currently home to the Westminster Adult Education Centre, which will move to new sites on Lisson Grove, Marylebone, and Senior Street, Maida Hill.

The new building will be a home for ARK Atwood Primary Academy, currently based on Third Avenue, Queen’s Park, which took its first pupils in September 2011. The development will be funded by luxury flats on the canal side.

The plans were approved, despite going against council policy as they contain no affordable housing and too few family-sized homes.

A contribution of �1.3 million towards affordable housing on the junction of Harrow Road and Ladbroke Grove was accepted as compensation.

Residents are concerned the new school will bring too much traffic to the narrow cul-de-sac.

Linda Heavy, chair of Amberley Road residents association, said: “You’re going to see a lot of traffic coming through as parents drop their kids off every morning.

“What upset me was this being pushed through without proper consultation. We don’t want it”

A Westminster Council spokeswoman said: “Westminster Council has worked closely with the Department for Education, City West Homes and local residents on the ongoing developments in the area.

“The new ARK free school delivers a much needed local primary school, and its catchment area policy ensures it will be specifically available for local children.

“The school is proving to be very popular and is going some way to addressing the ongoing shortage of primary places across London.”