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Four bidders circle Holland Park deal

CONTRACTS - WEST LONDON

A CONTROVERSIAL project to tear down a school in west London and build a new academy has moved forward this week after contractors picked up tender documents for the scheme.

Laing O'Rourke, Balfour Beatty, Costain and Norwest Holst are all pricing the £45 million job to redevelop the Holland Park secondary school for client the Royal Borough of Kensing ton and Chelsea Council.

Turner & Townsend is project manager on the scheme, which will see a phased demolition of the existing school to make way for the academy building.

Much of the opposition to the scheme centres around plans to sell 30 per cent of the school's land to developers and build a luxury housing scheme. Proceeds from the sale will be used to fund the rebuilding work, which will be phased over three years.

The new school will be built on the northern part of the existing site, while the southern half will be used for residential building.

The development will dominate a conservation area marked as semi-rural by one of the council's chief planners.

A campaign against the project has been led by Isaac Ferry, Green Party member and son of musician Bryan Ferry.

Planning has been submitted to the Department for Education and Skills, which has given initial consent for the sale of the land. If council planners give it the thumbsup, work on the development could start early next year.

A source at one bidder said: 'This project has just come out to tender so we don't really know too much about what is going to happen with regards to planning. We'll just get on with it and wait and see.'

Tenders for the job are due to be returned on November 10, with a contract award anticipated before Christmas.

The current school is in need of modernisation. The new development, designed by Aedas, will feature more physical education and recreational facilities including a multi-games area, indoor sports hall, gym and learning resources centre.