New Mossbourne Academy plans for Hackney branded a “travesty”

The proposed plans for the Victoria Park site

The proposed plans for the Victoria Park site - Credit: Archant

Proposals to turn a historic Grade II-listed former hospital site into a new school for South Hackney have been branded a “travesty” by nearby residents.

Mossbourne Academy has teamed up with Hackney Council to secure funding to develop the site, in Victoria Park Road, Victoria Park.

It was previously home to Cardinal Pole lower school, which has now moved to Morning Lane, Hackney.

But the proposed design of the new 800 pupil Mossbourne Victoria Park Academy – set to open next September – has been criticised by nearby residents, architects and Hackney Design Review Panel (DRP), which gives independent guidance on major developments.

The panel concluded the “low-budget building” falls a long way short of the original Mossbourne Academy in Downs Park Road.

But while architects for that development had £3,000 per square metre to spend for the original academy, the second version, designed by architects Jestico and Whiles, has been awarded less than half that sum, according to Building Design weekly.

Local residents have opposed the scale and detail of the plans, which see three large modern cubed buildings squeezed into a tiny piece of land behind the listed Huguenot building, dating back to the 18th century.

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Trees subject to protection orders would be torn down if the current designs get the go-ahead and Lammas Road would be blocked, leaving many residents up in arms about the effect it will have on traffic and parking.

“The whole thing is a travesty, the plans are hideous,” said a resident of Lammas Road, who wished to remain anonymous.

“It looks more and more like the proposals are being railroaded through with little thought for the sensitivity of this historically important site and the surrounding area’s ability to handle the traffic and transport pressures.”

In a letter to residents, Cllr Geoff Taylor, who fully backs the proposals, said: “I am not satisfied that the architects have yet come up with the right solution for the treatment of the various façades of the new building, but then neither are they.”

More than 50 people turned up to a public consultation event last month, and a council spokeswoman promised that their views will be taken into account, along with those of the DRP.

Mossbourne Principal Peter Hughes said he was confident that they would be able to build a school which meets everyone’s needs.

“As always, in the inner cities, there is a juggling act with the need to have excellent schools in boroughs like Hackney and the needs for residents to have well-designed buildings,” he said.

“We are completely committed to designing a building as per our existing Mossbourne site, however, working within constrained budgets and very keen to get feedback from local residents.”

An architect from Jestico and Whiles said the firm was addressing residents’ concerns, but did not comment further.

A planning application is due to be submitted by the end of the month.