|Gunnersbury Park School Plan Collapses|
Small Mansion future uncertain after AlphaPlus withdraw
A plan to build a school on the site of the Small Mansion in Gunnersbury Park is not going to proceed following the withdrawal of the scheme's sponsor from discussions.
The Gunnersbury Park Joint Advisory Committee learnt at its meeting last Friday (7th June) that AlphaPlus, the owners of the Falcons School, were not going ahead with their plan.
AlphaPlus were given 'preferred bidder' status under the tendering process. Given the rules governing the procedure it is not possible to reallocate this status to another bidder so the whole process must start from scratch.
The original aim was to reduce the cost of repair and maintenance associated with the park by getting a third party to take over the running of the Small Mansion. The Friends of Gunnersbury Park say this became the agreed strategy after Ealing Council rejected the outcome of a public consultation on the park in 2009.
The Friends asked Ealing Council officers to be able to see the documents which marketed the building. They were passed on to Ealing’s property advisers, Cushman and Wakefield, who would only release access to them after receiving a signed confidentiality and indemnity agreement, to which the Friends were not prepared to accede.
The Friends had urged them to wait until the award of the main Lottery bids to get the best conditions for inviting tenders. In the event only two tenders were made, the AlphaPlus bid and one for the construction of apartments on the site.
James Wisdom of the Friends of Gunnersbury Park Museum said, 'We are only faced with this situation by the long term failure of the two councils to properly maintain this (listed) building. If they are determined to continue with the strategy of getting it “off the books” and out of public hands, then it would be better to decide what use would be best for the Park and work to bring that about. This sequence of events reveals just how much we need a strategy which treats the Park as an integrated estate with a proper system of management and governance.'
A spokesperson from AlphaPlus said:
'' Following long and detailed consideration of the plans for the Small Mansion at Gunnersbury Park, we have decided not to proceed with our involvement in the process. We have concluded that the scale of the project meant that it would not be possible for us to deliver it financially in a manner which would be sustainable and we have therefore decided to withdraw at this early stage.
“We want to thank the Councils for their courtesy and professionalism during the process and we wish them every success with the plans for Gunnersbury Park, which, we very much hope, will return it to its full glory.''
A joint statement from Ealing and Hounslow Councils has just been released:
'' It is disappointing that Alpha Plus Group has decided to withdraw its support, particularly as Ealing and Hounslow councils do not have the estimated £4million required to carry out the much-needed restoration work. As this was the only viable option put forward, the councils are now faced with the significant challenge of trying to a find sustainable short term use for the building, as well as preventing it from further deterioration. The councils will also be investigating other viable long-term options for the site over the next few years.''