Lewisham Bridge School planning application


The planning application for a new school near Lewisham town centre has been submitted to Lewisham Council. The document describes the project as:

"The redevelopment of Lewisham Bridge Primary School, Elmira Street SE13, to provide a part three/part four storey all-age school (ages 3 -16 years) and a two-storey sports hall, together with landscaping including play areas, provision of 96 cycle spaces and 16 parking spaces."

Over at Green Ladywell, Cllr Sue Luxton has written a brilliant summation of the issues the application raises, the most important of which is that Lewisham desperately needs a new secondary school, to reduce the number of kids which are forced to travel outside the borough to get an education.

25 comments:

patrick1971 said...

Wow, pretty much agree with everything Sue has written in her blog! Although I don't have kids myself, I'm an ex-teacher and it was interesting to see her raise the issue of it being an all ages school, something that I had thought was out of favour. Also interesting to see that Sue has lived in Belarus...a very, erm, interesting country, certainly on my visit. You don't meet very many others who've been there.

One minor point and it's more of a general gripe than about this school in particular, but why does modern building have to be so bland? That really is just a big grey box. I'm sure that inside it'll work well, but when you compare the effort the Victorians put into their civic architecture, much of which is still being used today, it does make you wonder.

Bea said...

I can totally understand the need for a new secondary school in Lewisham. However, it's a shame that the old Victorian primary school will have to be pulled down as it is an elegantly proportioned building (apart from the modern portacabin-like structure plonked in front of the entrance).

Hugh said...

When's the pool on Loampit Vale going to be ready? I don't care about new schools.

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

The Talbot will re-open before the pool does......

Hugh said...

Then I'll cancel that order for new Speedos.

Sue said...

@Nick: thanks for your comments - I agonised over that post for ages!

@patrick1971: Belarus is indeed an interesting country, if 'a little' short on democracy (a number of my former students were arrested in the last lot of pro-democracy demonstrations). Worked in Minsk for a year from 1996-1997 teaching English and made some good friends. Only met about 5 other foreigners in the entire year I was there, and that was living in the capital city. Both Ute (my fellow cllr in Ladywell) and I have degrees in Russian, though, Tamil or Turkish would arguably be more useful to us in our current roles!

@ Hugh: In Nov 08 the Council announced that the Loampit development had been pushed back a year, due to economic circumstances. Pool now scheduled to open in the summer of 2012. Just as well Ladywell Pool wasn't demolished as originally planned . . .
@ Bea: it is a nice old Victorian building to look at, but one of many similar ones, I think, and not great in terms of disabled access etc.

Hugh said...

Thanks Sue. Will Ladywell pool stay open until Loampit is built? I hope so. I love it.

Sue said...

@Hugh: yes, the Mayor has committed to that, assuming no other major problems with the building are discovered.

Monkeyboy said...

Jesus, is that a halfway positive comment from the old Hugh? Keep it up old chap.

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

Can't be the real Hugh

"thanks love & hope" all in one post - it must be an imposter.

fred vest said...

i also think it was an excellent summary and analysis of the issues, well done sue!

hope you don't mind another question while you're here sue - do you know if the contractor (VT group a ship builder i think?) has been able to secure the necessary finance for this and has any assessment been made of whether the PFI scheme still offers tangible benefits (apart from being able to keep the liabilities of the govt's books) given the increased cost of funding they must be lookin at now compared to a year or two ago when the scheme was first proposed?

(ps i've also been to belarus, and my brother in law makes regular trips there to smuggle cheap petrol back into a neighbouring country)

Sue said...

Sorry Fred, I don't think I can answer your questions - I don't know much about the contractor, but I believe VT and Costain have a 40% stake each and the Council and BSF Investments have the remaining 20%. I don't think PFI has ever been good value for money, has it? Interesting question though, as I don't know what kind of interest rates the Council is tied in to on this.

fred vest said...

yep you're right, i'm not saying i believed they were ever value for money, but now even by the official financial comparisons that i believe all PFI deals need to go through to show how they are a better financial deal than them being directly financed by the state/public, i wouldn't be surprised if even these failed to show a benefit (even though they are fudged from the start to always show a marginal financial benefit to going down the PFI route)

i'm sure in the past general interest rate movements wouldn't really do that much to knock out these (fudged) figures as any increase or decrease would pretty much be the same for both methods being compared, however at the moment given the huge spreads over govt bonds for corporate borrowings we could have the case where the financing cost for the govt has come down but the financing cost for private firms has went up, making any previous comparison that showed a marginal net benefit to the 'public purse' (sic) in PFI looking pretty tenuous when the calculations are redone under current conditions

there's an even more delicious irony to it at the moment in that in the past we were always told that PFI transferred the risks & liabilities to the private sector (which we all knew wasn't true anyone, you just need to look at metronet to see where risk really lies), however given that in effect the whole banking system (which provides the finance for PFI) has been nationalised either through direct control of companies or the underwritting of the functioning of the whole money & bond markets any risks that in the past could have been claimed to have been transferred to the private sector lie squarely back with the public through the public bearing the risk of the financial sector that in turn bears the risk of the contractor defaulting on their borrowing - so we basically get screwed twice as opposed to only once pre recession - and then screwed once more in that the interest costs that are passed back to the council in rental/lease payments are based on a higher risk based lending (as opposed to the low interest funding the govt can obtain through gilt issuance) to a private firm when in effect there is no higher risk as it is all either explicitly or implicitly guaranteed by the state anyway so risk is back in the hands of the public (unlike the profits)

nobbly brick said...

It is an excellent summing up by Sue, and it makes me proud to live in the ward that she represents, but I do have a question.

Why can't the school be built on the huge piece of wasteland that is adjacent to it?

Of course its nearer the road, that may be undesirable, and of course it would be unpleasant to have a building site next to a school - but solutions could be found for both. Is it that either solution would cost extra money that could make the development unprofitable?

Or is it that the land has already been sold to a developer and this has been added to the developers assets so they can go further into hock with failing banks and be able to build more sub-standard buildings that will last 50 years at best?

Anonymous said...

Crawler.

Anonymous said...

If the wasteland referred to is West of Elmira St/Rd facing Lomapit Vale, that forms parts of the development for the proposed state of the art leisure centre.

Or as it's better known 'Hugh's speedo hangout'

http://www.loampitvale.co.uk/site_context.php

Anonymous said...

The developers of the Leisure Centre are building an 'energy centre' and were hoping the school would also use it for power.

Is that part of the application?

Tamsin said...

PFI is just a game of pass the buck and pay the lawyers.

Anyone remember the Oak Tree pub on the corner and the very engaging notice around the frieze - "Mild Stout Ale Porter" - sounded such a likeable chap.

patrick1971 said...

Three people on this blog have been to Belarus! Surely a record. Any more Belarus-fanciers out there?

thomas said...

The Grade II listing of Lewisham Bridge School is to be warmly welcomed - it is a fine Edwardian building and the plans to replace it by a cheap design that'll soon fall to bits is typical of the wholly unsustainable and short-sighted approach taken by the Council.

We need local political leaders with the imagination to commission architects to refurbish this historic landmark and incorporate it within a new school, with well designed new buildings that complement this Edwardian icon. This is the green sustainable approach - not knocking down a perfectly sound old building.

We need to turn our backs on the trhow-away mentality and reuse, recycle and celebrate our past. This school building has served the area very well for nearly a century, there is no reason why it can't do the same for another 100 years.

Thomas

Rach said...

If you want to check the rave review on Lewisham Bridge School it is on "Building Design" website

http://www.bdonline.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=3138299&origin=BDdailyr

Tamsin said...

With you all the way Thomas. It's a pity, in many ways, that the Hatcham Wood School on Wallbutton Road had acquired such a reputation as a sink school that they literally had to wipe the slate clean. It was a wonderful twenties building, the first school to be built with suites for teaching "Home Economics" and lots of oak panelling.
It's even more of a pity that the Council did not act on its promise to let the Telegraph Hill Society in to take photographs and fully record the building interior before it went. We had been assured that we would be given due warning and invited round and then suddenly one day noticed the work had started. The contractors obliged with a visit at very short notice but it was less than satisfactory - one slightly grotty camera.

JRB said...

I was disappointed that someone above described the proposed scheme as a 'grey box'. From the render on the blog it has a quite an ambitious cantilever to the top floor (think peckham library), a decorative pattern of windows and a 3 storey curtain wall which may or may not show an atrium. The wall under the oversailing top floor seems to be cut at a jaunty angle with the cut expressed in a different cladding finish. From this one image it appears to be quite an interesting, well proportioned expression of the architectural style of the day. I agree that reusing existing buildings is often more sustainable, and listed heritage structures should always be protected as much as possible.

Anonymous said...

The point is - is it fit for the purpose? Many people that I've spoken to who are involved in education think that it isn't. So it may be a failure before it's already started.

A said...

Our high school instituted a mandatory summer bridge program for all freshmen. The program covered algebra topics, both in school and online, to help us with the transition.

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