Plans to demolish Marlborough School will go ahead despite it emerging the council did not secure all the necessary permission from central government.
Kensington and Chelsea Council failed to make an application from the Secretary of State for Education for the disposal of the school land.
The school in Chelsea has been earmarked for demolition this autumn so a more modern fit-for-purpose Marlborough School can be built at the site.
Those fighting the demolition of the Victorian school hope it will lead to the controversial plans being scrapped, but K&C Council says plans for the school’s demolition will go ahead as planned.
A spokesman for the council said: “We have general consent from the secretary of state to build a new, larger school building for Marlborough Primary School and we plan to begin work in September.”
Proposals will also see office and retail space built on the existing playground site, meaning the council needed to obtain authority to change the use of the playing fields.
Jane Solomon has been leading the fight to save the school, which first opened in 1878, and she was aghast at the discovery.
“Basically, they were going to do something that was unlawful. The Department of Education has confirmed no application has been made by Kensington and Chelsea," she said.
“There has to be something in place to stop councils land-grabbing and putting anything they want on school land, and we have asked the secretary of state for community and local government to call in the application and revoke the planning permission.”
The school will move to the John Lewis Clearings site in Draycott Avenue. The land was recently purchased by Sports Direct and Newcastle FC owner Mike Ashley, and as part of the deal money was made available for the new and temporary schools, which is reported to cost around £40m.
Ms Solomon said a complaint had now been made to the ombudsman, and added: “It appears that RBKC Council wrongfully gave consent to John Lewis PLC for the planning permission, since the council did not have the required consent for disposal of school land.”
A K&C Council spokesperson said: “There are two of particular concern to the council: the new school itself and the new commercial building to be built on school land that is demonstrably surplus.
“For the first element, the new school, we already have planning permission, the consent of the Secretary of State and the support of governors, staff and parents.
“The current school building has many serious educational defects. We intend to replace it with a brand new building that is better in every practical way.
“As well as accommodating more pupils and a specialist autism unit the new school will have significantly more space, both inside and out.
“The new Marlborough School will also be a very fine building, paid for entirely through a commercial deal.”
He said the commercial build would mostly be on the old caretaker’s lodge and would deliver significant annual rent to the council.
The spokesperson continued: “Disposal consent for all the elements of the scheme was received in 2013 but in addition a separate S77 consent may well be required.
“If needed we will apply for it in due course. For the reasons just given it would be surprising and disappointing if such permission was refused.
“But for the avoidance of doubt, the rebuilding of Marlborough School is a separate element of the scheme and will go-ahead whether or not consent is withheld for the new commercial building.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Education said: “It is the council’s legal duty to dispose of playing fields and we are in contact with the council to discuss the next steps.”