Segas House school scheme dropped over Minerva sale price

“A victory for commonsense”, to borrow from the UKIP/Freedom Association/Tax-payers Alliance handbook of handy, populist, yet empty statements.

But the decision to convert Segas House into a primary school has been binned.

The Segas building: unsuitable for conversion to use as a primary school

The Segas building: unsuitable for conversion to use as a primary school

The very notion was ludicrous.

It was put forward in all seriousness by Councillor Tim Pollard, now the leader of Croydon Conservatives, in December 2013. He seriously suggested creating a school for four- to 11-year-olds right next to a six-lane urban motorway, with nowhere for a playground or any open space for the pupils, and with rush-hour chaos almost guaranteed each weekday when precious parents parked up to drop off or collect their children.

Croydon’s Tory councillors all went along with the daft idea.

Inside Croydon reported four months ago that the school scheme could not work. Converting the Grade II-listed Art Deco offices for modern use would prove far too expensive for a cash-strapped local authority.

And then there is the building’s owners, Minerva, the bloody great bluebottles in the ointment in so many development schemes in the town centre. St George’s Walk, anyone?

Acting entirely properly in their own business’s best interests, Minerva are behind a number of the objections to the Whitgift Centre Compulsory Purchase Order, in a tug-of-war between rival property owners and developers which threatens to blight the centre of Croydon. Again.

Minerva would have certainly demanded a pound-and-half of flesh to sell Segas House, even though the office block has stood, vacant, neglected and unwanted, and not earning for them, for several years.

In a report to last night’s council cabinet meeting, the plans to accommodate those good friends of Croydon’s Tories, Oasis Community Learning, with another primary school in the Segas building were finally dropped. “Discussions regarding the cost of acquiring Segas House as a primary school site have shown that an alternative site at Waddon Fiveways represents a more cost effective solution.” Translated into English, Minerva wanted to charge too much, and the conversion costs were too high.

But hold on a moment… Surely Pollard and the Tories who were in charge of the council this time a year ago must have known that Minerva could be tricky to deal with?

Surely they must have guessed that Minerva would be active in trying to leverage the maximum settlement from the council and Hammersfield over the Whitgift Centre development?

Just how much were Pollard and Croydon’s Tories prepared to pay out of public funds to buy the empty office building from Minerva to create a primary school on a wholly unsuitable site?

Segas House remains, a key site in the centre of town, in the midst of promised “regeneration”. Using it as a primary school was a ridiculous notion. No one, neither the owners nor the local authority, has yet come up with a truly viable alternative.


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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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