Camden puts free primary building on sale

Campaigners for a new free school in Fitzjohn’s Avenue have accused Camden’s finance boss of being “short sighted” after the council put buildings they wanted to use for a primary school up for sale on the open market.

Campaigners for a new free school in NW3 have been lobbying Camden Council for two years for a new secular primary to combat a shortage of school places in the area.

They recently applied to the Department for Education to open a free school in the former hostel buildings. But they will not know until September whether their application has been successful and the closing date for bids on the buildings – which have a guide price of �6m – is July 8.

Former deputy head and Belsize Lane resident Linda Grove attended a full council meeting on Monday.

She said: “It is very short sighted of councillor Theo Blackwell and his fellow Labour councillors not to wait a few weeks more for this long-awaited and needed school decision. Camden would receive the market price for the building from the government and a school, which would solve both of Camden’s problems.”

However, Cllr Blackwell told the chamber that the council had to sell the buildings to help plug a �400m shortfall in the capital budget.

He said: “The grounds for withdrawing BSF money was that the DfE simply did not have the money to proceed with the programme. I would find it strange if they emerged with up to �8m for a small individual project.”