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Plans approved to turn Highbury office block into 1000-place free school training students in ‘movie-making’

PUBLISHED: 15:16 09 November 2017 | UPDATED: 09:28 13 November 2017

Digital impressions of what the Working Title School, a thousand-place sixth form with a specialism in film, will look like. Photo by Architecture initiative

Digital impressions of what the Working Title School, a thousand-place sixth form with a specialism in film, will look like. Photo by Architecture initiative

Archant

Plans have been approved to turn a Highbury office block into a free school training students in ‘movie-making’.

Digital impressions of what the Working Title School, a thousand-place sixth form with a specialism in film, will look like. Photo by Architecture initiativeDigital impressions of what the Working Title School, a thousand-place sixth form with a specialism in film, will look like. Photo by Architecture initiative

Ladbroke House will now be transformed into a 1000-place specialist sixth form school featuring a large film studio – based on those of Pinewood Studios – where film production will be taught alongside the national curriculum.

Working Title School will be run by the Meller Educational Trust and backed by world-renowned British production company Working Title Films, which has produced works such as Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’s Diary and Billy Elliott.

The four-storey former factory, on the corner of Highbury Grove and Kelvin Road, has been empty since 2012. The building was used in a variety of ways before being bought by London Metropolitan University and sold on to the government for £33.5 million.

As part of the proposal – conditionally approved by Islington Council on Tuesday evening – the centre of the 1930s building will be demolished to make way for a film production studio which will form the heart of the school, which is down the road from Highbury Fields School and Highbury Grove.

Digital impressions of what the Working Title School, a thousand-place sixth form with a specialism in film, will look like. Photo by Architecture initiative Digital impressions of what the Working Title School, a thousand-place sixth form with a specialism in film, will look like. Photo by Architecture initiative

Rachel Archer, the Islington National Education Union representative at Highbury Fields, said: “It is such a shame that these plans have gone through; the community, teachers at the local schools and local council have been clear on this. There is no need for a new school in this location.

“It is an indictment of our times that blind profiteering comes before community need. Islington NEU will continue to campaign against the free school plan and we appeal to the council to reconsider its previously principled opposition and, once more, join us.”

In addition to the national curriculum the school will teach film industry vocations ranging from hair and makeup, to set design through to lighting and post production, visual effects and sound editing. There will also be a variety of standard teaching classrooms, workshops for set design, screening rooms, editing suites, a range of studios and a specialist film library.

Lee Mainwaring, Architecture Initiative design director, said: “The process of making this building is actually a bit like the making of a set: we are creating a backdrop for learning the craft of film making and storytelling.

Digital impressions of what the Working Title School, a thousand-place sixth form with a specialism in film, will look like. Photo by Architecture initiative Digital impressions of what the Working Title School, a thousand-place sixth form with a specialism in film, will look like. Photo by Architecture initiative

“This will be a really unique opportunity for a niche education environment to train students in the art of film and digital media. It’s a hugely exciting project.”

The studio will be a scaled-down version of a real industry facility, providing flexible space to support a wide variety of activities for film and TV production.

What do you think about the plans? E-mail james.scott@archant.co.uk.

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