Ham&High letters: Abacus School, estate agent boards, climate change and Ken Pyne

The deputation from Abacus Belsize Primary School, including headteacher Vicky Briody tell the plann

The deputation from Abacus Belsize Primary School, including headteacher Vicky Briody tell the planning committee why it should approve its move into the police station. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Ham&High readers this week.

Abacus Belsize decision is a 'debacle'

Yvonne Bloom, Hampstead, writes:

I watched last Thursday's web cam meeting of Abacus school planning application for the old police station in Hampstead.

After three hours of pure torture I was unsure if I was watching a black drama or a comedy show as there was little to differentiate between them both.

The meeting clearly demonstrated that Abacus school has tried to placate the preposterous demands that they have encountered from city planners, councillors and Hampstead residents all the way. It seems to me that there are no more "hoops" to jump through with their impossible expectations.

Abacus is a school which is offering 210 children an environment for education the most important factor in this scenario.

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Abacus has shown and proved to meet high standards in both LEA standards and Ofsted results. Their presence in Hampstead to occupy a beautiful listed building is being thwarted by "hierarchy" for reasons beyond my comprehension .

Please help me understand the nonsense of discussing for three hours EO emissions, acoustic fencing, environmental issues, use of basement, infrastructure issues, lighting, and children's eyesight.

I personally have visited over 450 schools in the north of England and have witnessed deplorable conditions where children are educated in buildings which can only be described as condemned and totally unsuitable but still they remain. Leaking roofs, barred iron windows , cold open ended corridors and boilers that were in disrepair often and children had their coats on inside the school.

Abacus is only offering the very best at all levels, a safe building for the children,with dedicated staff, and high teaching standards, what else could you ask for but to see 210 children have the best start in life.

How can 210 children been detrimental to the environment. Do they leak EO emissions like the hundreds of cars driven in Hampstead every day? Do they cause damage to the infrastructure in Hampstead? Is the decibel level of noise of 210 happy children need to be lessened by acoustic fencing and as for children's eyesight perhaps their homes need to be evaluated before putting this in to question?

We as a country are supposed to be humane, politically correct, and aware of all health and safety issues. Please tell me what more Hampstead residents local councillors and city planners want because Abacus school has "bent over backwards" to meet the most challenging criteria that is way beyond the call just to have a beautiful place to call home, and the advantages of 210 happy pupils having cherished memories of the years spent at Abacus school must all be worth it.

There should be no red tape, no more fighting and no more time wasting, Hampstead do the right thing and let Abacus bring all the good things in life to Hampstead, stop the negativity and bring positivity to them and let Abacus carry on doing the great job of educating children who are our future generation.

I have no affiliation to any member of staff at Abacus or to the Hampstead residents but my sympathy's over this debacle has made me write this letter to you.

Baffled by Abacus relocation block

Linda Grove, local campaigner, writes:

Thursday's planning consultation at the Crowndale Centre, reflected our politics today with incorrect information from The Downshire Hill residents committee to the planning committee of local councillors.

The questioning of the local councillors to Camden's planning officers felt like the arguing which we view on our screens night after night with our present government over Brexit.

It is a sad day for our outstanding, community walk to school Abacus, a community initiative, where we helped to fix a problem Camden would not solve.

This is a school for the local children of Belsize Park which has shifted from one temporary site to another, met the requirements of Camden's planning committee but was rejected by councillors and Downshire Hill residents .

Camden officers put an excellent case to the Camden councillors and are supportive of the school.

Hampstead Conservative councillors failed to support their own party's policy on Free Schools which says a lot about the sincerity of our government, now they want us to vote for them .

The school and the Educational Development Trust, rebranded Cfbt, have worked and addressed every objection that the objectors have against

Abacus relocating to the old police station.

This is everything from the size of the school, design, health and safety issues to retaining the heritage of the building.

Yet they still reject the recommended planning committee approval of the plans and I have to ask myself why? abacus-cfbt.org/

Call to reopen police station

Philip Slotkin, Carlingford Road, Hampstead, writes:

Camden Council has again rejected the application for Abacus School to move into the former Hampstead police station,

If the Conservatives win the election and recruit 20,000 more police officers as promised, the obvious use for the building is to reopen it as a police station so as to accommodate the new local contingent for our area.

PTA vows to fight for Abacus' future

Darla Hocking, PTA secretary, Abacus Belsize Primary school, writes:

The parents and, most of all, the children of Abacus are bitterly disappointed by the decision of Camden Council to deny the planning application for the old police station on Rosslyn Hill to become the school's permanent home.

All the planning officers made it quite clear there were no legitimate reasons to refuse the application yet on the most spurious of grounds councillors went against the expert advice of Camden's planning officers - including the transportation and conservation officers - and turned the school down.

The committee heard from the council's conservation officer that the school would make a good use for the building with an acceptable level of alterations, some of which would restore currently hidden historic features. By contrast, other uses were shown to be unacceptable for the listed building.

The Abacus PTA vows to keep fighting for the future of our outstanding school and will lobby our governors, trustees and the DfE to appeal this unfounded and vindictive decision.

Ban 'ugly' estate agent boards

John P Graham, Hampstead, full address supplied, writes:

I cannot agree more that something rapidly needs to be done about the proliferation of estate agents boards throughout Camden's streets.

This is something that I've noticed more of in recent months and it's interesting to note that, in a recent consultation, a massive 89per cent of respondents felt that this ugly form of advertising should be banned.

These days it's not necessary to advertise outside residential properties which are for sale or to rent since people, looking for properties can easily register with any number of estate agents covering their preferred areas, see properties advertised in estate agents windows or log onto their websites. The area's two local newspapers are also another option, especially the Ham & High which has a very comprehensive weekly property supplement.

This practice very rarely occurs when a vendor lets or sells a commercial property.

When did you last see a pub or a shop displaying a to let or a for sale board affixed to it?

It good that Camden Council are rightly on the case and hopefully, sooner rather than later, we'll see a complete ban on estate agents boards.

Climate change and inequality

David Stansell, Green Party parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn, writes:

I note with horror, but sadly no surprise, that in your article "Revealed: North London's most deprived neighbourhoods ranked by postcode" of November 4), many of the most deprived districts in N London are located in or on the border of the constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn, where I am standing as parliamentary candidate for the Green Party.

Climate change and inequality are closely connected, and in the Green Party we are committed to improving the availability of affordable, sustainable, comfortable housing for all, which is one of the root causes of the terrible deprivations we see on our streets on a daily basis.

It is possible to build sustainable public housing cost effectively with good design - as the award winning development in Goldsmith Street, Norwich demonstrates.

I live almost exactly in the centre of this wonderful, diverse constituency and it is my personal mission to provide at least as much support to the west of the constituency as the generally more affluent east so that we can begin to address this unacceptable imbalance.

Great cartoon Ken - please mock us

Charles Harris, Green Party, writes:

I was very tickled by Ken Pyne's cartoon in the w Ham & High (p 14, November 17) which was as good as ever, but am deeply offended that he didn't include a Green Party candidate.

We are just as capable of waving annoyingly through voters' front windows as the other parties, and under electoral law we demand that we be lampooned as much as the competition.

I look forward to future cartoons mocking us as furiously as everyone else.


In last week's Ham&High opinion we published a letter by Siew Gratton in support of relocating Abacus Belsize. It was titled: Why question great Abacus?

In the text we incorrectly stated there are no "regular" primary schools in the areal. This should have read there are no "secular" schools in the areal.

We apologise for the error and are happy to correct this week.