Free school bids for Hampstead Police Station

Free school campaigners have opened talks with education bosses over a possible move into Hampstead Police Station.

Last week the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, unveiled plans to allow new schools to move into old police and fire stations across the capital.

The Abacus Belsize Primary School, which is set to open next year, has asked the Department for Education (DfE) to investigate the possibility of a move into Grade II listed Hampstead police station, which is facing closure.

Despite fierce opposition, it is understood the Victorian station in Rosslyn Hill has been earmarked for closure and plans have already been set in motion to move staff elsewhere.

Mother-of-two Jill Barnes, who is helping set up the Abacus Belsize Primary School, said the station is one of many buildings, including old Hampstead Town Hall and a Territorial Army centre in Fitzjohn’s Avenue, being considered.

She said: “Since Boris said that last week we have asked the DfE to see if there is any possibility of either sharing or using the police station.

“It is certainly in the right place and a public building, but we are certainly not going to boot anyone out.”

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The school opened its application process last month and is expecting to begin the 2013 school year with 30 pupils in a reception class. Residents on neighbourhood policing panels supported the bid as long as the building was shared with police teams for Hampstead, Belsize, and Frognal and Fitzjohn’s.

Rupert Terry, who chairs the Frognal police panel, said: “A free school moving in would be a good use of the building if it is no longer going to be used as a police station, that at least would be something beneficial to the community.

“It’s better than another luxury development.

“But it depends on what the strategy is. If it’s to raise money I don’t think a free school is going to be the way forward.”

The Met is currently reviewing its property portfolio to help make �500million worth of savings over three years.

William Wellbank, chairman of the Hampstead police panel, said: “It’s important that the community have the first opportunity for that building.

“It’s always been in use for public service it would be good to see it used for the community. We have plenty of luxury developments in Hampstead but not enough community facilities.”

Jessica Learmond-Criqui, who leads the Hampstead Shops Campaign, said the building – thought to be worth �30million – was “crumbling” and “rat-infested”.

She suggested the community buy the building using a government loan and pay it back using rent from newly-installed shops.

A spokesman from the mayor’s office said the policy was still in its early stages and could not comment on individual buildings.