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

The Planning Decision

 

Having worked closely with Camden Council’s planning and conservation departments for two years, together with other agencies including Historic England, and following extensive consultation, we are very pleased to report that all the proposals are recommended for approval by the Planning Committee on 14 November 2019.

After our long search for a permanent home for this outstanding school, we sincerely hope that Councillors will finally be able to permit the application and allow Abacus to continue to serve its local community.

The Planning Officers’ report concludes:

"On the balance of all material planning considerations the proposals are considered acceptable and that the applicant has resolved the reasons for refusal of the previous application, with a much reduced scheme. It is therefore recommended that planning permission and listed building consent be granted."

  • The change of use is acceptable in planning policy terms

  • Brings a vacant public building back into beneficial use and safeguards its future

  • The cost and location are not material to this planning application

  • The proposals are considered acceptable in transport terms

  • The development is air quality neutral

  • The significance of the listed building and the conservation area will be preserved

After more than six years serving the children and families of Belsize, Abacus Belsize Primary School has now seen its founding families settling into Year 6 and the school has welcomed a new Reception class entirely from within its catchment area. We are now awaiting determination of our planning application to create a permanent home close to our community and, after many years of searching, we’re certain that the former Hampstead Police Station on Rosslyn Hill is not only an ideal location, but also the only suitable site available.

Matters of fact

Some people still suggest Abacus isn’t needed or talk as if it won’t even exist until it moves to Rosslyn Hill. In fact it is fully-established, successful and popular. When it moves to Rosslyn Hill will be full of children from the catchment it was established to serve. At this crucial time for the school, we want to make sure everyone has the facts they need to offer us their support and good will.

 

Choice and need

The need to create a secular community school for Belsize was established by local families and campaigners eleven years ago – there has never been a non-faith state primary school in the whole of Belsize. The reality before Abacus was families had to relocate out of the area, were offered a place at a faith school, were forced to pay for a private education, or faced no offer of a local school place at all. It was on the basis of both choice and need that the Department for Education gave the go-ahead to open Abacus Belsize Primary in 2013, with a catchment area agreed with Camden Council, that avoided any undue impact on other state schools in the area.

 

Catering for the Belsize catchment

Despite being in temporary accommodation from the start, Abacus has become ever more popular and is consistently in the top performing group of schools in Camden. Its Ofsted Outstanding rating testifies to why it has become the ‘go to’ school for Belsize Park families. More than 150 borough families applied to Abacus this year. Seventy were from the Belsize catchment and 24 of the 30 Reception places went to those children. The remaining six only went to siblings of children already at the school who currently live outside the catchment, in line with the admissions policy. For each of the last three years, with that small exception for siblings, the new intake has come entirely from within the catchment area.

Abacus Belsize is fully-established, hugely successful, oversubscribed, part of Camden’s pupil place plans, and successfully meeting a substantial local need. A sustained and growing demand for places at the school and evidence from Belsize nursery schools shows that Abacus has more than enough children in the area to fill its Reception class for the foreseeable future. Nearly 180 families rely on our school already and it is now, more than ever, hugely important for us to be able to create a permanent home within safe walking distance for these young families from the community it was founded to serve.

“I am strongly in favour of the proposed plan
to repurpose the old Police Station for the school’s permanent home.
This is long overdue and the sooner planning permission can be granted, the better.”