DHRA May 3rd statement to Ham And High

Posted in on the 03 May 2016

Everyone agrees that Belsize Park needs a new, 210-place non-faith school.

Hampstead has three good ones a few hundred yards from the proposed site, one of which has already shown its opposition to the new school as it will threaten the viability of its own.

With 50 odd schools educating 12000 pupils in NW3, residents know that Hampstead is heavily oversupplied. Camden has a surplus of primary spaces for 2016/17 and is on stream for projected growth to 2025.

The proposed school is inconveniently outside the Belsize Park catchment area, with the revised boundaries in excess of a 20 minute walk away. Abacus state that roughly 50% of current pupils come from outside their catchment area which will create significant traffic
problems and a real loss of amenity for neighbours. Camden’s policy against further schools in Hampstead recognises both the existing school run traffic burden and the lack of realistic control over future traffic, however well intentioned. Approval would also set a dangerous
precedent for further expansion in the private sector.

Last year Abacus’s Chief Executive wrote to parents saying the site was not viable -‘it would have compromised our mission of providing an excellent learning experience to your children”. Since then the proposed school has doubled in size and presents an overdeveloped and compromised site offering an unsuitably cramped environment.

Part-destruction of a heritage asset and the oversized extension, akin to a 1970s office block, does not meet the high design quality demanded by a Conservation Area. Historic England has advised Camden that Listed Building Consent should not be granted for the
plans as proposed.

The only play area for 420 pupils is a caged roof-top space which will be in incessant and noisy use in an otherwise tranquil area. Abacus is also obliged to provide an outside learning area in the basement well on Rosslyn Hill where pollution levels are double the national

Ofsted has recently criticised CfBT trust for low standards, after growing too fast and putting quantity over quality.

Abacus, come up with a solution which adds up! All will support you.

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