Hotham School Wall Gets Facelift

Bricks to be weathered to match existing buildings

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Residents who have expressed concerns about the appearance of a new school wall in Putney will have spotted that action has now been taken to make the wall blend into its surroundings more easily.

The mismatch between the wall and existing buildings led to lively discussion on the Putney Forum about the matter.

The wall was built as part of a £2.5m extension to improve facilities at Hotham School. It was built using traditional London bricks - which are the same as those used elsewhere throughout the school.

However, to ensure that these new materials more closely resemble the older and more weathered look of other brickwork at the school and in the surrounding area, a process known as “sooting” has now being undertaken. Essentially this involves each brick being treated with a special dye that gives it a more antique appearance.

Cabinet member for strategic planning Cllr Russell King said: “To be fair to local residents who have expressed concerns about the appearance of this new wall, until now it has rather stuck out like a sore thumb.

“However, this is somewhat unavoidable when you replace a wall that was probably about 100 years old with a brand new one.

“Because of this we always knew that further work would be needed which is why we had always planned on carrying out this “sooting” exercise to give the bricks a more weathered-look. I firmly believe that residents will be much happier with this additional work.”

The council is also looking at other cosmetic features which could be employed to reduce the visual impact of the wall.

When Hotham’s new extension was being planned by architects, it was originally proposed to incorporate the school’s existing perimeter wall in the new build. Planning permission was obtained and granted on this basis.

However when the works began it became immediately obvious that this would not be possible. The existing wall was badly decayed and leaning over at an angle and could have posed a danger. This diagnosis was confirmed in a written report by independent structural engineers.

As a result, part of the existing boundary wall had to be completely removed and replaced. The council is now seeking detailed approval to regularise this unforeseen change to the original building plans.

July 12, 2011