CamdenNewJournal

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Former police station is the only suitable site for Abacus’s permanent home

09 August, 2019

Hampstead police station

• HAVING read the letter from Todd Berman and Andrew Neale (The Abacus school should be in its catchment area, Belsize, August 1) I thought it might help if I clarify a few points about the Abacus Belsize application.

Initially focused on the catchment area, the school founders searched for locations, but none provided the space the school needed to accommodate it or were affordable within the available budget.

In late 2012 the Education Funding Agenda (EFA) took on the task, using a commercial estate agent. Several more sites within a mile of the Belsize catchment area were identified and their suitability tested for a 210-pupil, one-form entry, school.

Only one met the requirements – the disused police station on Rosslyn Hill. The Department for Education acquired the site from the Metropolitan police for Abacus Belsize Primary School in June 2014.

In early 2017 the Education and Skills Funding Agency conducted a further search but none of the additional sites it investigated met requirements either.

At the request of some Hampstead residents, this search was reopened again in 2018, but the former Hampstead police station remained the only suitable location for Abacus’s permanent home.

A comprehensive document cataloguing the extensive site search for suitable locations for Abacus Belsize Primary School forms part of the formal planning application. To clarify: Abacus is not a commuter school.

Of the 90 children who started their education at Abacus in 2017 and 2018, and again in this coming September’s intake, all are from our Belsize catchment area with the exception of four who are siblings of children already at the school.

That means that no one will be “commuting” to school. Just as most of the parents and carers dropping their children off at school will do so on their route to employment, we will walk (because we are lucky to live close enough to the school to do so) or catch the bus (the C11, the 168 or the 268) to school. I know I speak for other parents when I say we share your concerns about pollution in NW3.

However, without Abacus Belsize and in an area of the borough where there are not nearly enough school places, children would have to travel across the borough to other schools which would undoubtedly increase traffic journeys, congestion and pollution. If you are concerned about pollution then you must consider this issue.

EJ McCARRON
Abacus Belsize
Parent Campaign group

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