Abacus Belsize School: Free school launches renewed bid to take over former Hampstead police station

The former Hampstead Police Station, in Rosslyn Hill, which Abacus Belsize Primary School want to tu

The former Hampstead Police Station, in Rosslyn Hill, which Abacus Belsize Primary School want to turn into a school. Picture: Harry Taylor - Credit: Archant

Abacus School Belsize has launched its latest attempt to open in the former Hampstead Police Station in Rosslyn Hill.

After a consultation last year, it has submitted plans to Camden Council to turn it into a school for 210 pupils.

Previous plans for a 420-pupil site were rejected in 2016 because of "over development."

Now the school is hoping a smaller proposal will win round Camden planners, so they can move into the police station in 2021.

Under the plans, the school would build classrooms in the main building for reception to year four. Meanwhile years five and six would be housed in a converted stable block outside.

A new school hall would be built at the back of the station, and the magistrates' court would be turned into co-working business space for 16 people. Hampstead BID has expressed an interest in running it.

The Grade II-listed station was designed by John Butler Dixon and opened in 1913. A hundred years later it was closed by London mayor Boris Johnson and sold to the Department for Education for £14.1million.

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Abacus opened in September 2013 to address the "Belsize black hole" of having no secular primary schools in the area.

It is based in Camley Street. It's lease expires in 2022.

However opponents have pointed out that the police station is outside its Belsize catchment area, and that Camden has the lowest fertility rate in the country, amid falling school rolls.

There has also been concern about a potential increase in traffic, but Abacus' plans include a "green travel plan" that includes "physical, promotional and educational" measures to enforce it.

The school currently has 140 pupils on its books. It was oversubscribed by five times for its reception places last year, with half of the applications coming from Belsize.

In a letter to councillors urging them to back the scheme, headteacher Vicki Briody said: "The reality is without this planning approval Abacus remains with an uncertain future. Families in Belsize Park go back to being in the black hole of school offers, young families move out of the area and the community loses its valuable assets, its people."

The Heath and Hampstead Society, and Hampstead Community for Responsible Development (HCRD) oppose the new plans.

Andrew Neale, from HCRD said: "The application is based on the school being different. All the children will walk. That doesn't happen in any other Hampstead school, as anyone here will know. It's outside its catchment area, you can't make up more nonsense than this."

The deadline to submit comments on the proposal is June 4. You can do so here: https://contact.camden.gov.uk/planning-search/ quoting reference 2019/2375/P.