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Tavistock Centre could quit Hampstead over rates hike

Camden Council blames increase in charge on central government

06 February, 2017 — By Tom Foot

ONE of the leading psychology centres in the world could move out of its historic base after being “hard hit” by a rates hike.

The Tavistock and Portman Foundation Trust has set up a business case for quitting its large site in Belsize Lane after almost 100 years. Its governing body is due to meet to discuss progress. A statue of Sigmund Freud – an NW3 landmark – stands outside the front of the building but now the board is looking at “relocation of the Trust to a new site”.

Board notes warned that its coffers had been “hard hit” by a “rates revaluation exercise” that is costing a quarter-of-a-million pounds more a year – by around 80 per cent of its current budget surplus. The revaluation is one of the reasons given by the board for “assumptions around relocation” being written into the Trust’s recently published five-year plan.

Camden Council’s finance chief Councillor Theo Blackwell said that the rates revaluation “hits Camden harder than the rest of London”, adding: “We’ve warned that the biggest impact of the revaluation is on educational establishments and the knowledge quarter – a major sector in the local economy. This sector is predicted to see average increases of over 40 per cent.”

He added that the government should “not punish major institutions with ever higher costs” and allow the council to use more of the business rates to “encourage growth”.

The Tavistock site – on the fringes of Hampstead and Belsize wards – would fetch tens of millions of pounds if sold to property developers. The centre was founded in 1920 after the First World War when a new form of psychology emerged as an alternative to the traditional system of committing mental health patients into asylums.

The current building is 50 years old this year.

In a statement, Paul Jenkins, chief executive of the Tavistock, said: “As we look to the future, we want to make sure we have the accommodation we need to continue to provide high-quality, accessible services within the borough of Camden. “This week our board of directors has been considering options for the next stages of this work.”

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