A long-derelict listed building on Lordship Road is to see a new lease of life as a school for 360 pupils.
St. Mary’s Lodge was destroyed by fire in 2005, having been built about 1843 by architect John Young (1797-1877) as his family home and sat vacant since the 1990s, following a previous use as a care home.
The site will now be made home to a Jewish boys’ school for the Viznitz
Orthodox community for pupils aged between 7-13, to a design with stone cladding and bronze framed windows by architect John Stebbing.
Following a unanimous vote by Hackney’s planning committee to approve the design, committee chair Cllr Vincent Stops (Lab, Hackney Central) said that councillors would “look forward” to seeing the building.
Cllr Simche Steinberger (Con, Springfield) added: “I am very happy that it has been granted, and it is very refreshing to hear the site will finally have an educational use.
“I’m looking forward to seeing it being built, and I’m sure it will be a lovely building as we have a great architect, and everybody will be happy, and that’s what it’s all about.”
The Town Hall considers the proposals a “significant enhancement on the existing rundown appearance of the site,” though some objections were raised to the new building including calls for redevelopment of the site to be in the same style as the existing heritage building.
Concerns over the combined effect of the arrangement, volume and shape of the building, or its ‘massing’, were presented in person by Nick Perry of the Hackney Society.
Perry said that while the society was “gratified” that the site was being brought back into use, that it was the “massing of the building that we have a problem with,” and asked whether the scheme may be “too much school for the site.”
In a representation as part of the planning documents, the Society wrote: “The school’s massing exceeds the massing proposed in the planning brief
and as a result brings incongruous, dominant and alien additions to both
Lordship Road and, in particular, Lordship Park.
“It has a negative effect on the streetscape and setting of the locally listed Lodge and significantly detracts from the cohesion of the Lordship Park townscape.”
In response to the concerns over the school’s bulk, architect John Stebbing said: “It is correct to say that our scheme pushes the envelope on massing, but we have been very careful to not domineer the facade of St Mary’s Lodge as seen from the corner of the road.
“The scale of the building has been looked at by the Design Review Panel, and there was a big discussion about civic scale. We’re not using that phrase to justify a building that’s too big. We have given a bit more breathing space around St Mary’s Lodge as was, and the DRP felt it was of appropriate scale.”
Hackney Society also raised concerns over a “particularly unrefined and dreary” residential development which will be taking place on a separate adjacent plot to the rear of the building, but which will be decided outside of planning committee under delegated authority.