CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save a historic 19 th century school in Croxley Green have been dealt a blow after the building was denied listed status by English Heritage .
The former Yorke Road School, in Yorke Road, was deemed unworthy of the listing, despite plans by the owner, charity Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, to demolish it.
Proposals to replace the Victorian school with five new flats were unanimously rejected by Three Rivers District Council (TRDC ) in January, after more than 350 residents signed a petition against the development.
But the charity says it urgently needs to realise the maximum value of the former school, which is one of the last remaining buildings of the Dickinson Mill era, to invest in research to save the lives of blood cancer patients.
Chairman of the Croxley Green Residents Association, Barry Grant, said the decision by English Heritage was a 'huge disappointment'.
"A quick decision was made to give Abbey Road studios English Heritage status but despite campaigning for two years to save the school, which has huge historical importance in Croxley Green, we didn't achieve the listing, which seems a real shame," he said.
"I understand the trustees of Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research have an interest in getting good value for money from their investment, but the question is how much money.
"I am in favour of the building being renovated sympathetically, as it is such an asset to the area, and that is the only solution to keep everyone happy."
But Croxley Green parish councillor, Frank Brand, who expressed concerns in January that the English Heritage listing would not be successful, believes the building's future is now doomed.
"Unfortunately my prediction has come true and it seems that no building is sacred any more.
"If TRDC try to save the school, no doubt the developers will take the matter to appeal where the planning inspectorate are likely to overrule the council's decision.
"This is very sad for Croxley – the area is hardly recognisable and the voice of local people doesn't count any more because of the incessant need to keep building upon building."
The school, which closed in 1977, is currently listed by the local authority, but does not enjoy the statutory protection of a national listing.
No application has been submitted as yet for refurbishment or demolition of the building.
Councillor Ann Shaw, leader of Three Rivers District Council and a planning committee member, said: "I wouldn't have a problem with the building being considered for renovation but I certainly would not like to see it pulled down."