A new home for Abacus Belsize Primary
 
www.abacus-cfbt.org

An ideal permanent home

An uncommonly thorough investigation of 76 potential locations, more recently in collaboration with Hampstead residents, has given everyone a rare level of confidence that the former Hampstead Police Station on Rosslyn Hill is not only an ideal new home for the school, it’s also the only suitable site available.

The Police Station and Courthouse provided the busy operational home of Hampstead’s part of the Met Police for 100 years. It closed in 2013, remains in public hands, and has been owned by the Department for Education since it was acquired for Abacus in 2014, remaining in public hands. During its peak as a police station, up to 300 people could be found in and around this bustling site. It operated all day, every day. In contrast, the school will accommodate up to 210 pupils and around 24 staff, who will be there for much shorter periods of the day and only during school terms. That’s fewer people using the buildings overall, for only 195 days of the year.

 

A sympathetic approach to conservation ...


The school’s professional team of specialist advisers has worked closely with the council’s planning and conservation teams to make sure that the plans enhance and maintain the historic character and features, while providing the modern fit-for-purpose school the community has long required.

 

You can find more information about all our plans, proposals and news of developments here.  

 

The building’s long history has seen many alterations, few of which were sensitive to its status. Once the unsympathetic additions are removed, it will look much more attractive. The whole building is in poor condition and will be refurbished with the careful retention of key historic features. Access throughout will be improved to modern standards. Layout and features will be adjusted to provide the suitable, safe and accessible spaces that are required by a primary school. The magistrates’ court will remain a separate entity, retaining its handsome magistrates’ bench, and become the home of a small business enterprise unit.

Restoration and conservation

 

The two photographs to the right show the many decades of unsympathetic extensions and additions that had been allowed to the building.

 

The Abacus conversion removes most of these external eyesores, as can be seen below, tidying and restoring the fabric of the building. Similar restoration will take place throughout, bringing this landmark Grade II Listed Building back into full public and beneficial use.

The Courtroom

The courtroom will retain its handsome magistrates’ bench and panelling and remain separate from the school, reinstating one of the original divisions of the building.

 

It will become the home of a small enterprise unit with flexible space for local businesses and start-ups.

... and a positive impact on the local environment

By the time the school moves to its permanent home all its children will live a walkable distance away, however some people have expressed concern about the school causing additional traffic. A new survey recently completed at the council’s request, together with the transport assessments submitted as part of our planning application, make clear that our ‘walk to school’ ethos and car-free policy will in fact produce considerably less traffic than when it was a police station and will comfortably meet the council’s transport and development policy aims. The route chosen for the ‘walking bus’ that will gather and supervise the children as they travel to and from school on foot, has been deliberately designed to pass through the least busy areas away from main roads, much-reducing the children’s exposure to traffic on their journey.

Concern about the comfort and convenience of local residents has also played a considerable part in developing plans and all school playing areas will be at ground-floor level, separated from the surroundings by landscape features.

An Air Quality Modelling Assessment and the fact that plans meet the aspirational Air Quality Neutral target for new developments, gave us further confidence that the site is suited to our plans. Mechanical ventilation will make sure that the air that flows into the school building comfortably meets air quality targets. Children in the playground will be at no greater risk of harmful pollution than if they were playing in the gardens of neighbouring homes or, according to a GLA study of schools in the capital, many other primary schools in the borough.

Early years facilities

 

The former police station lends itself to the easy division of learning spaces and associated play space. Our Early Years classes (Reception and Year 1) are side-by-side on the lower floor with direct access onto their own designated play space. The lightweight glass cover over this area also helps to protect the play space from rain.

With the reassurance provided by all the objective studies and assessment that all material planning considerations have been comprehensively addressed, the school can now confidently breathe new life into a distinctive historical building that is entirely suited to be its permanent home.

The stables building

The former stables building in the main playground will be transformed into teaching spaces for Years 5 and 6