Decision to opt for refurbishment route ends four years of controversy at west London school.

The Board of governers for Pimlico school has thrown out a £50m PFI rebuild scheme.

They ditched the plan after considering a report by project manager Buro Four that compared the PFI option with a three-year, £20m refurbishment plan drawn up by architect Hawkins/Brown.

It is understood that Buro Four recommended the PFI plan over the refurbishment, but governors decided to reject its conclusion.

The decision ends four years of controversy over the decision to adopt the PFI route.

Europe Singh, chair of the governors, said: “We went through the new data to see if PFI was the best option. We decided it wasn’t. We would like to go down the refurb route.”

Under the PFI scheme, St Georges Square Partnership, a consortium made up of Kier, Costain, Tilbury Douglas and architect Ellis Williams, would have demolished John Bancroft’s 1960s school and built 169 private homes on one-quarter of the four-acre school field. Singh said the disruption caused by the five-year rebuilding programme and the loss of school land were unacceptable elements in the PFI scheme.

He said: “The decision we’ve taken is based on disquiet the governors have had over a long period of time. I would say the PFI scheme is now dead.”

The decision is based on disquiet the governors have had over a long time


Chair of Governors Europe Singh

John Tibbitts, St Georges Square Partnership’s general manager, described the decision as disappointing. He said: “We acknowledge the governors’ decision but everyone still agrees that the existing building has serious deficiencies.”

Westminster council, which championed the PFI scheme, expressed dismay but accepted the governors’ decision.

“The government, the council and the contractor have worked hard to keep this option alive but this appears to be the end of the line,” said John Harris, director of education at Westminster city council.

The governors are now likely to work up a new brief to refurbish the school and seek funding sources. But Harris refused to commit the council to funding the refurbishment project.

Roger Hawkins, Hawkins/Brown director, said: “I think we demonstrated the refurbishment could deliver.