A school that was subject to a number of protests and demonstrations while it was demolished and rebuilt has opened to students.
Marlborough School in Chelsea welcomed pupils back to its new building in Draycott Ave in September.
The school closed in 2015, with pupils taught at the nearby John Lewis Clearings site, while opponents to the scheme launched petitions and contacted the ombudsman in a bid to stop the demolition of the 1878-built premises.
The new building includes a specialist autism unit on site, allowing pupils with the condition to work alongside other children, as well as a dance studio, art room and creative media suite.
A games area is also located on the roof and first floor.
The redevelopment of the school caused much anger, with 1,700 signing a petition against the levelling of the stunning Victorian building.
Among those who opposed the plans were The Victorian Society and esteemed cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, brother of Andrew.
A protest took place in Chelsea and the petition was handed to Kensington and Chelsea Council before a debate in October 2015.
There was hope the building would be saved when campaigners learned the council had failed to apply for disposal of school land, claiming the demolition was therefore “unlawful”, but consent was later approved by the Department of Education.
Kensington ad Chelsea was accused of “vandalism”, while campaigner and Marlborough mum Jane Solomon called the local authority “morally corrupt” during the council debate.
Emma Will, head of education at the council, was all smiles at the reopening.
She said: “I am sure staff and pupils will enjoy being here and will build on the excellent work the school has been doing.
“It is particularly gratifying to open the new autism unit, meaning children in the south of borough have the same access to services as those in the north at Barlby Primary School.
“We have been working hard to increase Special Educational Needs provision in the borough and I hope this can continue.”
Headteacher Jessica Finer, who had said the original building was not for purpose, said: “We are very excited to have finally moved into our incredible and beautiful new building which we have been looking forward to for a long time.
“Over the past few years we have had many discussions with parents, staff, pupils and governors to ensure that the community gets the school they deserve.
“Although the interim school was bigger and offered a real improvement in teaching facilities, the new school has been designed to offer a wider range of learning opportunities within a state of the art environment.
“The building provides light and space, and includes flexible teaching spaces, both inside and out, as well as dedicated teaching spaces for children with autism.”
According to the council, space in the school has increased from nearly 3,800 sq m to nearly 5,700 sq m, while purpose built playgrounds have gone from 1,500 sq m to more than 2,600 sq m.
There are also more trees and green space than previously.
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