CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

The Abacus school should be in its catchment area, Belsize

01 August, 2019

‘Let’s bring the police station back to life for the Hampstead community, but not as a commuter school’

• NO one is suggesting the Abacus Belsize School be closed. On the contrary, the parents deserve a permanent location for their school; but in Belsize, its catchment area where its students live. Schools need to be at the heart of their communities.

Virtually every Hampstead community and planning organisation, local GP and dental surgeries, residents’ associations and residents have opposed the application in writing to Camden Council. If you have not done so yet, please write to David Fowler, Principal Planner, (David.fowler@camden.gov.uk), opposing this scheme.

The fact is there is no need for a new state primary school (Camden’s 2018 Annual School Places Planning Process Report).

Local schools are already seeing a reduction in their ability to fill places, which means a cut to their budget. In any case Hampstead children would not be allowed to attend the school (Abacus website).

The Abacus proposal would increase traffic in Hampstead by creating a new school run. It would increase congestion on the walkways and the roads; it would increase pollution in an area which is already dangerously above legal levels; it would rip apart the heritage of the old Hampstead police station and the conservation area in which it sits; and all this damage would be done when the school places simply are not needed.

The Abacus Belsize scheme would violate well in excess of 17 national and local planning rules and policies. On planning grounds alone the council should refuse it.

An analysis of the environ­mental impact filed by Southwest Environ­mental Ltd states: “…to allow planning permission for a school at this location would be akin to knowingly expose children to significant harm”.

There were much less expensive, better, fit-for-purpose sites for Abacus available in Belsize that were rejected because Abacus insists it deserves a gold-plated site in Hampstead, a location where it will have excess space that will give it income (£150k per year) that other local state schools don’t receive.

Do we really need the most expensive free school ever built in the UK here in Hampstead? And this when our state schools are being starved of funding?

The old Hampstead police station has been left empty for over five years. As a site for the Abacus school it will not create jobs or economic benefit for Hampstead. It will increase traffic, congestion and pollution.

When Abacus finally locates its permanent site in Belsize it will be a win-win for both our communities: Abacus Belsize parents will get what they have always asked for, a permanent school site in their Belsize catchment area; and Hampstead residents will have avoided yet another totally unnecessary school run with its pollution, congestion and traffic.

Let’s bring the police station back to life for the Hampstead community, but not as a commuter school.

TODD BERMAN & ANDREW NEALE
Co-Chairs, The Hampstead Committee for Responsible Development

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