BY TOBY PORTER
An almost unspoiled street of former working class housing, virtually untouched in 150 years, is under threat, it has been claimed.
The plans for Roupell Street, in Waterloo, by language school Education First, would need permission from Lambeth council because they break the rules of the conservation area there. Residents are fuming about the application, first presented last summer, which will come before the council’s planning committee on November 28.
They launched a campaign when it was first proposed, with a Change.org petition signed by more than 10,000 people including historians, architects, actors and MPs.
The planning application was withdrawn – but it has now been submitted again, with residents being told less than two weeks before the decision is made. The picturesque Grade II-listed terrace was built in the 1830s and frequently features as a television and film backdrop, including in the Kray twins biopic Legend starring Tom Hardy, and TV series such as Mr Selfridge, Call the Midwife and Doctor Who.
It has 70 Georgian houses and a Victorian school building occupied by Education First, and residents believe it is one of the most filmed places in London, with at least a dozen crews shooting each year.
Resident Chris Owens said: “If a conservation area is to be tampered with there must be significant public benefit – in this case there is none.”
Another resident, Diana Greenway, said: “If the council is prepared to disregard the conservation rules it laid down itself, the residents themselves must protect this unique example of a London that is fast disappearing.”
Education First’s planning application with Lambeth council is to demolish a brick wall, railings and gates, and build a two-storey extension and basement in its front courtyard.
The extension will house a canteen and also require the felling of five trees. Residents say it will block views to the listed school building and destroy the street’s historic charm.
EF Language Schools has more than 450 schools in 50 countries and another school in Aldgate, east London – one of 11 in the UK. It registers up to 1,000 international students a week at its Roupell Street campus.
An Education First spokesman said: “We are pleased to have received a recommendation for approval from Lambeth council officers.
“Education First have consulted extensively to bring forward a proposal of the highest quality for the site that has been our home since 1992.”