School listing could derail another Lewisham school plan

The South London Press reports that plans to demolish and rebuild Sydenham School could be scuppered by English Heritage, which is considering giving the 1950s building Grade-II listed status.

Heritage concerns have already prevented the rebuilding of Lewisham Bridge school and delayed the planned development of Gordonbrock and the shortage of local school places is threatening to become an acute problem.

With thanks to Patrick for the story.

18 comments:

lb said...

I can only assume this is because it's a Basil Spence - not exactly one of his better ones, either.

If it's a question of educational use, that has to take priority unless the building is of exceptional quality (not something you can say about this one or Gordonbrock).

Brockley Nick said...

Don't know it, but I quite like the look of it from that photo (I know that style's not everyone's cup of tea). However, agree with you in both cases...

lb said...

It's a nice enough piece of municipal Modernism (and I do like a bit of Modernism, municipal or otherwise) but if it's crumbling around the pupils' ears then something has to be done. I'm glad English Heritage is now at least considering listing buildings in this style; we haven't cared for our post-war architecure very well. However, we wouldn't want to be treated in 1950s theme hospitals, so...

max said...

It could be that it's crumbling, on the other hand it could also be that it needs to be replaced otherwise the money available for replacing it would be lost.

Lou Baker said...

Perhaps we could apply for permission to
knock down the conservation nit wits and replace them with something less moronic.

Anonymous said...

If they did demolish the mentioned schools,where would all the pupil's go from those 3 schools while they were being built.

Brockley Nick said...

I assume they thought of that ;)

In Gordonbrock and Lewisham Bridge's cases, a decant was on the cards. Not pleasant for those affected.

Lou Baker is such a useful person said...

Lou Baker - you is so funny

Tamsin said...

De gustibus... It strikes me from the photo as having no merit whatsoever. But then the same thing was said about the wonderful Pru building in Holborn which was threatened with demolition almost as soon as it was built people hated it so much.

Anonymous said...

English Heritage or its forerunner listed the most odious building in Lewisham, Eros House at Catford.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they should list the public loos...it appears they are on the list to be demolished to save the Mayor £60m along with scrapping Town Centre Managers and reducing the number of street wardens.

Pri Mark said...

Anything that pisses the mayor off is OK by me. These buildings would not be crumbling if they (that is the Mayor and the council) had looked after them properly in the first place.
Is this the Primark ethos for school building? Build it cheap and build it often.

Headhunter said...

I can completely understand the 2 views on this. If it's true that the building is crumbling (possibly through lack of maintenance by the council) or that it no longer fulfills the requirements of modern schooling then fine, perhaps it should be replaced, however postwar architecture like this is being destroyed now as rapidly as eminent Victorian architecture (which is now consdered worthy of saving) was just after the war.

Victorian edifices such as the ex Prudential building in Holborn mentioned by Tamsin were consdidered the height of bad taste and incredibly old fashioned not so long ago. Look at what happened to Euston and nearly St Pancras stations in the 1960s. Euston was completely bulldozed and now we lament the loss of its glorious Doric arch.

Maintenance and sensitive alteration should be carefully considered, not least because the environmental impact and carbon footprint of complete demolition and rebuilding is much higher than simple alteration.

It often seems to me that Lewisham Council is too quick to leap to demolition - Gordonbrook School, Lewisham Bridge, the swimming pool in Forest Hill, the cluster of Victorian shops in Lewisham centre to name just a few.

lb said...

The problem is that demolition and starting again might be cheaper in the long run. You also get a building using the most up-to-date materials, and therefore far more efficient, and which is designed from scratch according to what the education authority's current needs are. Don't forget that even if you allow a certain amount of alteration to an older building, you're still working within a framework considered suitable 50 or 100 years ago. There are certain limitations, and I think with buildings such as schools or hopsitals far less room to be sentimental about it.

lb said...

Incidentally, large-scale Victorian architecture is inherently pretty "tasteless", compared to the austerity of High Modernism; it was a vulgar, mercantile age and produced buildings accordingly. Jonathan Meades' Victoria Died in 1901 is an entertaining exploration of this.

Headhunter said...

As I said, if the building is totally unsuitable for modern use, if classroom design needs have changed so considerably in the past 50 years, then fine, build a new school. I doubt this, but then I'm not an expert on school design so am happy to be proved wrong.

It may well be cheaper to build a brand new building, it may not, I don't know, but with the awareness we have of climate change these days, economic cost should not be the only consderation.

I agree that Victorian architecture is fairly twee and has little merit of its own. It largely pulls on classical and Gothic details and bolts them onto suburban or commercial brick buildings. However it has a certain charm and magnificence despite this and has generally aged gracefully.

Can't watch that link at work so will have to come back to it later.

Tressilliana said...

As far as I'm aware Sydenham School isn't a Victorian building. It started life as a country grammar school before WW2 and became a comprehensive in the mid-60s. The expansion in buildings came in the 50s or 60s.

If I'm right, the discussion about Victorian buildings is a bit of a red herring here.

Headhunter said...

No, it's not Victorian, it's post war modernist, but still may be worth a listing. Look at the pic in the link in the article.

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