School plans to expand despite failed recording studios application

Old Victorian red brick nursery that looks like a house

The school said it had a history of using old buildings to teach small classes. - Credit: Google Maps

The private school that wanted to buy the former Decca recording studios in West Hampstead said it is looking at expansion options due to a high demand for places.

North Bridge House applied for a certificate of lawfulness of proposed use or development (CLOPUD) to Camden Council in October. If approved, the school could have converted the Grade-II listed Lilian Baylis House into a site for 300 pupils aged 13-18 without needing planning permission.

The property is owned by the English National Opera and has been on the market since February.

To the "relief" of some locals, the CLOPUD was rejected by the council on March 25.

The school which has sites in Hampstead, Regent’s Park and Canonbury, said it has no immediate plans but that it will "continue to keep its options open" on Lilian Baylis House.

One West Hampstead resident said they could not understand why a school would want to use the old building that is in a "bad state" and is located is on a busy, one-way road.

Lilian Baylis House exterior showing English National Opera sign in West Hampstead

The former home of the recording facility Decca Studios is up for sale. David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac and The Moody Blues have recorded music there. - Credit: Frankie Lister-Fell

A spokesperson for North Bridge House (NBH) told the Ham&High it is experiencing a high level of demand for places with "significant waiting lists in key year groups", prompting it to look at expansion options.

They said the school was particularly drawn to the "vibrant West Hampstead community" due to Lilian Baylis House's close proximity to its other campuses.

NBH has a junior site in the West Hampstead area – the nursery and pre-prep school opened in September 2020 on Fordwych Road.

Most Read

"As we have successfully done at other historic NBH sites, we saw the opportunity to breathe new life into the building, investing the time and money needed to restore its architecture and create an environment for young people to receive an outstanding education," the spokesperson said.

"Our students, staff and parents would help support the local shops, restaurants and other businesses that may greatly benefit from this increased footfall."

One of the main objections to the school's application was around increased traffic, but the spokesperson said senior pupils "do not use school buses and instead walk or cycle to school or make extensive use of public transport".

The spokesperson said: "In exploring the potential for expanding, we remain committed to providing a close-knit learning environment – smaller groups with multiple campuses of students benefitting from a lower student-teacher ratio."