Free school buildings in Hampstead face being sold

Campaigners who want to set up a free school in Belsize are concerned that Camden Council may sell the buildings they have earmarked for the new primary.

The parents and community members submitted an application to the Department for Education this week and will find out in August if they have been successful in their quest to open a new non-denominational free school in NW3, in a bid to solve the places shortage in the area.

Up to 934 people have signed a petition in support of the school and the parents of 96 children have expressed an interest in sending them to it.

But campaigners are concerned that the council is planning to sell the buildings they have been looking at using – at 4 Maresfield Gardens and 9 Fitzjohn’s Avenue – before the government responds to their application.

If they are successful the DfE will either rent or buy the buildings from Camden. It is understood that the council is hoping to sell them for �5.5million on the open market.

Linda Grove, a former deputy headteacher and Belsize Lane resident, who is involved in the campaign said: “They knew we wanted a building and have been slow to respond to our needs. We just hope they can wait until we hear back from the DfE before they sell it.”

A council spokeswoman said: ‘‘The sale of these hostels has formed part of the council’s community investment programme for some time and is a vital part of helping us achieve the �400 million we need to remedy the urgent backlog of maintenance requirements across all our council buildings.’’