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Crest Nicholson, the developers who now own the Elsley School site, are holding an exhibition this Friday so residents can see their plans for the site.
The old Elsley School was the last remaining building on the old Gideon Road after the Luftwaffe and the post-war planning did their bit (that’s probably a bit unfair to the Luftwaffe, who didn’t get that much of it) and was never technically part of the Shaftesbury Park Estate or conservation area, although many assumed it was.
However, it is important to see what goes there ‘fits’, since it will be the architectural bridge between the Victorian estate and the post-war Gideon Road estate. And it will be a significantly different development for the immediate neighbours than the previous, relatively low, school and referral unit buildings.
The exhibition is between 3pm and 9pm on Friday 9 December at the St Nectarios Church in Wycliffe Road.
Elsley School’s move to the Nightingale site looks like being made permanent. The site has been empty for some time now, and on occasion been a cause for concern and problem for neighbouring residents.
To be fair I’m not that surprised. I was chairman of governors at the school immediately before it ‘federated’ with Nightingale, the school that was effectively its big brother. At the time the school had a number of problems (some of which I was there to try and address) but one of the biggest was the sheer inadequacy of the building as a modern school – problems compounded by it being a special school.
And a Victorian school building often isn’t that suitable for anything anymore. It’s hard to imagine how the spaces within can be productively used for anything. The council will be demolishing the remaining buildings on the site (the Pupil Referral Unit was demolished some months ago) which will also enhance the overall security of the area for local residents and the site declared surplus to requirements.
In a way it’s sad, since the building clearly has history – there are some fascinating old photos of the school from Victorian times – but putting emotion to one side and looking at the site rationally it is, sadly, no longer a viable site for education and in its current state of no use to the wider council.