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Inspector requires archdiocese to demolish rebuilt primary school, rejects its costs application

An inspector has ruled that the Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark must demolish a primary school that was built contrary to planning permission, and rejected its demand that Lewisham Council pay its costs.

Our Lady and St Philip Neri School, Sydenham, in the London Borough of Lewisham, was rebuilt after planning consent was granted in 2016 but the council said the new school building did not conform to requirements set out.

A statement by the archdiocese said its officers “were disappointed to receive the planning inspector’s decision on the appeals against the refusal of planning permission…and the appeal against the complementary enforcement notice.

“The further announcement of refusal of our costs applications is also disappointing.”

The archdiocese said it would work with the school and independent experts and legal advisors “to consider the appropriate responses including a legal challenge”.

It would also try to work with Lewisham to achieve an agreed solution.

Paul Bell, Lewisham’s cabinet member for housing and planning, said: “We are pleased that the inspector has recognised the harm that the unauthorised building has caused.

“The planning system has to make sure buildings are suitable for their intended use and that they do not have a negative impact on their surroundings - this building deviated vastly from the approved plans.”

Bell said the council had tried to work with the church and “we regret that this had to end up before the Planning Inspectorate”.

Mark Smulian