Camden Council gives green light to school extension in West Hampstead

Parents are celebrating Camden Council’s decision to give the go-ahead to a new school extension in West Hampstead after a long-fought campaign over the shortage of primary places in the area.

The area has one of the most acute shortages of places in the borough – largely due to a rapidly expanding population and development.

Although a new school has been on the cards for some time, the decision to expand Kingsgate Primary School in Kingsgate Road by developing a new building on nearby Liddell Road was given the green light at a council cabinet meeting.

The proposal is subject to consultation but if successful, it would create 60 new primary places each year.

Kate Gosling, whose daughter, four-year-old Isabel, does not yet have a school place this September, said: “I think it’s very positive news. I think it’s brilliant. Although I think Camden Council have some way to go, it’s a great step that should have come sooner.”

Ubah Egal, a parent and director of the Somali Cultural Centre in Kingsgate Road, said: “I’m really pleased that Camden are going ahead with this. It’s going to be a relief for a lot of parents.”

Law student Omar Salem, 29, of Dynham Road, added: “I know there’s been a lot of people complaining about the fact there’s a shortage of school places for children. This announcement will make a real difference to hundreds of families in West Hampstead.”

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Kilburn councillor Mike Katz, who has campaigned for a news school, said: “Camden’s own figures show how desperately we need a new primary school in our area.”

But the decision comes as a blow to around 20 traders whose livelihood is under threat if the Liddell Road industrial estate is demolished to make way for the new school extension.

Branko Viric, owner of West Hampstead Motors, said: “I’m very, very upset. If it goes ahead we are going to have to close our business. There’s 13 of us who work for the company – that’s 13 families who are going to be unemployed. There is also a knock-on effect on other local businesses who we contribute to.”

Cllr Angela Mason, Camden children’s boss, said: “This is an exciting proposal to provide hundreds of community primary school places, in the area of highest demand in Camden, at no extra cost to the taxpayer. The new school building could be paid for with a mix of housing and business or light industrial development on the site.”