Council shoots itself in foot
Ealing Council is set to demolish historic school building - while calling it a heritage asset
A proposal to completely demolish a Victorian school building in Acton, now the Priory Community Centre, has been strongly cricised by The Victorian Society. The demolition flies in the face of Ealing Council's own Adopted Development Strategy (April 2012) which says that the council should 'care for the borough's historic character and enhance the significance of heritage assets in regeneration proposals'. Ealing Council has itself identified the Priory Community Centre as an undesignated heritage asset.
The former school building, now the Priory Community Centre, is unusually intact. 'It's a good quality building, beyond a doubt,' says James Hughes, Conservation Officer for the Society. 'It's remarkably well preserved and of historic and architectural interest. Knocking down this attractive building in the heart of Acton goes against the Council’s own guidance,’ he added, ‘Council documents stress the importance of the borough's historic character and the need to enhance the significance of heritage assets.’
The historic building is only a short distance from Acton's renowned architectural heritage: the group of Victorian buildings comprising the Town Hall, Kings Room and swimming baths, as well as the Magistrates Courts and the Library. James adds, 'More than any other buildings in Acton, these all contribute to the character of the area, which English Heritage has noted for its well-preserved Victorian form.'
Ealing Council is considering plans for an entirely new school on the site without properly addressing the arguments for retaining all or part of the original. Mr Hughes said: ‘We want to see the Council take a more imaginative and sustainable approach to this site, as the loss is a damaging loss to the character and built heritage of Acton. It should be possible to upgrade the school building while retaining this important reminder of Acton's heritage.’ The Society has written to Ealing Council urging it to turn down such a damaging scheme.
Thursday 31 May, 2012