Why we oppose this new Abacus application
11 July, 2019
Hampstead police station
• THREE years ago, Camden Council voted unanimously to stop the development of Hampstead police station by Abacus Belsize Primary School.
Abacus Belsize has applied for planning permission again, (We are alternative to ‘pay or pray’, says school ready to move into former police station, June 26).
We’re not opposed to Abacus Belsize, but we are opposed to this new application. Here’s why:
• Cost – At over £20million, this will be the most expensive free primary school ever built in the UK. On top of being given a £14million building with a reported further £7million spent on the fit-out, the school will also have income from a new business centre which will be established in the police station.
Local state schools are under enormous financial pressure; by adding more school spaces to an already oversupplied area, the financial strain to existing state schools will get worse.
• Not Needed – There’s no need for a new state primary in Hampstead. In and around Hampstead and Belsize Park, there are already over 650 more primary places than are needed. Over the next decade, this oversupply of places will double as forecasted demand drops. (2018 Camden Council report.)
• Not For Hampstead Children – Abacus Belsize is a commuter school. The school has a dedicated catchment area which expressly excludes Hampstead children (Abacus Belsize website). The school should be located at one of the suitable sites within Belsize Park.
• Traffic – Abacus Belsize will put more cars on Hampstead’s roads. Traffic experts estimate at least 25 per cent of Abacus Belsize parents will drive their children to or from the school each day. (This figure does not include the vans and lorries driving to and from the school to deliver food and supplies or vehicles used by maintenance workers, or the cars that will deliver and collect staff, cleaners and visitors.)
In other words, Abacus Belsize is proposing to put more cars, equating to more than 200 additional car trips each school day, on Hampstead’s roads.
• Pollution – In addition to a permanent increase in the number of cars on Hampstead’s roads, twice a day, during the school run, Abacus Belsize proposes to put an additional 400 parents and children, plus staff, plus those in their business centre – approximately 500 people – at one of the busiest intersections in Hampstead.
This increased congestion will slow traffic and will increase cars queuing and idling, creating more noise and more air pollution. At Hampstead police station, vehicle emissions are already above the government’s “safe” level.
These levels of pollution are wholly unacceptable for the elderly, infirm and children. To grant planning permission for Abacus Belsize is to consent to an increase in pollution that will hurt Hampstead residents and knowingly expose children to harm.
• Existing Policy – Local planning policy unequivocally forbids this development: “Hampstead and Belsize Park have a very high concentration of schools where significant issues exist concerning the ‘school run’. We will refuse applications for new schools or the expansion of existing schools in these areas, unless it can be demonstrated the number of traffic movements will not increase.” Camden Local Plan (2017).
Hampstead organisations opposed to this scheme include: Hampstead Neighbourhood Forum; Heath & Hampstead Society; Camden Residents’ Association Action Committee; The Governors of New End Primary School; The Governors of Rosary Primary School; The Governors of Fitzjohn’s Primary School; Arkwright Road Residents’ Association; Church Row Residents’ Association; Downshire Hill Residents’ Association; Hampstead Hill Gardens Residents’ Association; Keats Grove Residents’ Association; RedFrog, The Redington Frognal Neighbourhood Forum; Keats Group Practice
At a time when most of us are trying to reduce the rate of climate change in general, and London’s pollution in particular, this planning application is shockingly ill judged.
Please write objecting to planning application number 2019/2375/P to Mr David Fowler: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Time to oppose is running out. We urge all those who care about Hampstead’s past, and more importantly its future, to join us in opposing this application now.
TODD BERMAN & ANDREW NEALE
Co-Chairs, The Hampstead Committee for Responsible Development