Bid to turn former Hampstead police station into free school lodged
PUBLISHED: 12:37 14 April 2016 | UPDATED: 12:37 14 April 2016
Controversial plans to turn Hampstead's former police station into a free school have been lodged.
Camden Council this week received plans to transform the police station in Rosslyn Hill into a new base for Abacus Belsize Primary School, which is temporarily situated in Camley Street, near Kings Cross.
The application predicts that a permanent base for Abacus Belsize will provide an increase in non-fee paying, secular, primary school places in the ward of Belsize.
The school, which has an Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ level of teaching, will also have the capacity to gradually absorb more pupils - up to 420 by 2024.
Conservative councillor Leila Roy said she was glad the plans were moving forward, but said more could have been done to engage locals at the design stage.
She told the Ham&High: “As one of the original campaigners and one of the founders of the schools I’m really glad that we can finally see the finish line when it comes to having a building.
“However, I wish that in the early stages of designing the school the developer had chosen to engage with the community more so that the school could have been co-designed with the community.”
A representative of the Downshire Hill Residents Association said: “We are alarmed and surprised at the scale of the school.
“The number of pupils it is predicted to hold has been raised from 210 to 420 by faceless bureaucrats without any local knowledge.
“We also think the consultation process is cynical in the extreme in the sense that the time scale to take on board our comments after two years of the design process was at the absolute eleventh hour.
“We’re not anti-development, we want to see the building brought into community use as soon as possible but not at the expense of the character of the conservation area and in the context of a listed building.”
Vicki Briody, headteacher of Abacus Belsize, has previously told the Ham&High: “The permanent site will ensure that we can continue to build on the successes of our foundation year[s] with a clear aim for our future.”
Plans include the partial demolition and extension to the rear of the Grade II Listed property located in the Hampstead Conservation Area.
The main planning issues raised by residents during the consultation period regarded the highways impact of the development and the heritage of the building.
To counter these concerns the application includes plans for the school to be car-free, enabling sustainable school runs through walking buses, cycle and scooter parking.
It also highlights the benefits of bringing a vacant former public building back in to community use.