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19 October 2012
Holland Park School, one of the country's first and most famous comprehensive schools, is moving into a magnificent new building.Work on the £80 million project finished in October 2012. The new six storey building is divided into two distinct halves, separated by a central atrium stretching the full length of the building and linked by a series of walkways on each level.Key features include: large, well designed classrooms modern Information and Communication Technology (ICT) full disabled access excellent informal spaces for social interaction a learning resource centre significantly improved facilities for the sixth form high quality dance, drama, arts, science and technology facilities improved opportunities for community a more secure learning environment Specifically on sport and play there is: a 25m swimming pool a four court sports hall a fitness suite a synthetic turf all-weather sports pitch retention of the existing tennis courts a four tennis court-sized multi-use games area (`MUGA') improved landscaping across the site sports lighting informal covered play/teaching areas in addition to informal, social and habitat areasThis replaces the 1950s buildings which were dispersed across what by central London standards was an unusually large site.It was realised that by consolidating all school activity into a single, large building on the northern part of the site, the land to the south could be released for sale to help meet the cost of the new school. And this being Kensington and Chelsea, the land values were such that there was a good chance the sale might pay for the school outright.Though the new Holland Park is now on a smaller site, in every other way it is larger than its predecessor. As described above, the school was on a large site but because of the configuration of the buildings and landscaping, much of that space wasn't suitable for sports or even just informal play.Outdoor pitches at the school took the form of a tarmac area where falls could easily result in injury. The new school will not only provide an increase in the amount of space for formal and informal games, that space will also be of greatly superior quality and of far more benefit to future students. Cllr Sir Merrick Cockell, Leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, said: "Holland Park is already an outstanding school with good discipline and excellent exam results. Now it has some of the best facilities anywhere in the state sector too. It's a proud moment for the Council, the school and our contractors."Colin Hall, Head of Holland Park, said: "We are thrilled to have reached the closing stages of a journey that began over a decade ago and which has benefited from the enthusiasm and guiding hand of the Royal Borough. "We think our new building is `iconic', dynamic, original and wonderfully constructed. It is a new London landmark, setting a new standard for such public buildings. "We have every confidence that our students will imbibe its splendour and repay the investment by continuing to succeed so spectacularly. "In a year of all time record results for the school, it is a splendid moment in time to begin a new chapter of history in the new Holland Park School."Sir John Baker, Chair of the Governing Body, said: "The new School building is, quite simply, magnificent. We have watched it rise out of the ground with great anticipation and now we can see it, experience it, live in it and work in it."We are rejoicing in its fusion of design and functionality. We are proud of our school and proud of our new building: we will redouble our energies to ensure that Holland Park School continues to provide the very best in comprehensive education for our students and to repay the faith of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the community in the investment it has made in this wonderful building."To pay for the school, the Council has sold the southern part of the old school site for residential development. Planning permission has been granted for 72 homes. The homes will be arranged in a U-shape around a central landscaped courtyard and include a children's play space. All will be built to lifetime homes standards. Pedestrian and vehicle access will be from Campden Hill. As planning gain, the Council has funded two outstanding residential developments, one on Ifield Road, in Chelsea, the other at Silchester Garages in North Kensington. At Ifield Road, it has paid for 20 new units of social housing, at Silchester, 63 units of affordable and intermediate housing. The sale of the southern site has generated £105 million. From the outset the Council has set out to build the optimum new school for Holland Park, the specification is therefore unusually high. Nevertheless the sale not only pays for the school outright it has funded two high quality developments of affordable housing and it will also contribute a very substantial sum towards the construction of other new schools in the borough.Construction of the school building was completed in September 2012. Pupils will move in during the autumn half term. The temporary school will then be removed so that work on the pitches and landscaping can begin; that is scheduled to complete in November 2013.
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