Strong support for South Hampstead High School plans - head

It is disappointing after such a constructive meeting of the Development Control Committee that Dr Mayer Hillman (H&H letters October 23) makes a number of factual errors regarding South Hampstead High School s recent application, which I feel I must put

It is disappointing after such a constructive meeting of the Development Control Committee that Dr Mayer Hillman (H&H letters October 23) makes a number of factual errors regarding South Hampstead High School's recent application, which I feel I must put right.

Firstly, Dr Hillman may not have been present at the meeting on October 9 when the application was heard and therefore did not hear the support expressed by all parties for the plans to re-develop part of the school.

Secondly, 3 Maresfield Gardens is not a Grade 2 Listed Victorian school - it is not a listed building at all.

Thirdly, the Heath and Hampstead Society, while expressing some reservations, stated that "we believe that SHHS's position as an outstanding centre of educational excellence, of national importance, overrides these concerns."


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Fourthly, as to the number of consultation responses, these were and are overwhelmingly in support, and my reference was to one new objector in July 2008, in a total of three objectors in response to the latest application, reduced from 15 in April 2008. By comparison there have been respectively 130 and 84 letters of support, including, in July 2008, an additional 49 letters and a petition with 400 signatures.

Fifthly, the pupil roll has not been 'deliberately allowed to grow ... well beyond that for which it was originally designed'. The school operates well below its designated numbers as stipulated by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

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It is to be regretted that Dr Hillman has chosen a public media forum to express his objections, rather than write a letter of objection to, or choose to speak at, the relevant meeting. Dr Hillman fails to acknowledge that he was consulted at length by the school and indeed by the charitable trust under whose aegis the school operates, and his views on green issues listened to at great length.

The proposed building will be a beacon of excellence for Camden and London on sustainability issues.

I also deeply regret that Dr Hillman does not focus at all on what is the crucial element in our application, namely the overwhelming importance of education to the future of our society.

This importance was recognised in the committee report which concluded "the scheme presented represents a significant improvement to the school facilities offering benefits to school users to which there is an identified need. It also has the potential of providing benefits to the wider community. In addition, the environmental credentials of the proposed building would be excellent and welcome''.

Jenny Stephen

Headmistress

South Hampstead High School'

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