Plans to expand Hasmonean High School are in jeopardy after Sadiq Khan overturned Barnet council’s decision to grant planning permission.
Barnet’s planning committee narrowly gave the green light earlier this year for a major redevelopment that would see the boys’ school moved to the same site as the girls’ school in Page Street.
The proposals would increase the combined capacity from both schools by 300 pupils to 1400, helping to ease the pressure on secondary school places. A community leader has now warned that the overturning of the decision may have a “serious impact” on provision of Jewish school places.
But Khan has now ruled that the impact of the current plans on green belt land is “excessive” and told the borough to refuse permission. In a letter to the council seen by the Jewish News, he wrote: “Whilst I recognise the importance of meeting educational need, in my view the proposed footprint of the school, and the extent of development on Green Belt land and open space, is excessive. On balance, I consider that the potential harm to the Green Belt would not be outweighed.”
He also said there were a lack of “sustainable transport measures” to support the plans.
But the mayor said he “would be minded” to change his decision if Hasmonean submitted a revised application that would “provide the new school within the curtilage of the existing girls school site” as well as minimising the impact on green belt land and addressing transport concerns.
The council’s committee passed the proposals by just six votes to five in January, rejecting the recommendation of its planning officers.
The long-awaited result comes after growing concerns that the boys’ campus in Holders Hill Road was becoming over-stretched, with twice as many students as it was originally designed for.
The plans paved the way for additional sporting facilities, which Hasmonean parents have long acknowledged is needed. This includes four tennis courts, a sports pitch suitable for year-round use, and a games area which would be made available for local community use.
Andrew McClusky, Executive Head Teacher of Hasmonean High School, expressed “disappointment” that Sadiq Khan “decided to disregard the cross-party decision of members of Barnet’s Planning Committee by overturning the planning consent to re-locate Hasmonean High School on a single site”
He said the school “will be reviewing the reasons that the Mayor of London has given for his decision and considering our options. Hasmonean is increasingly oversubscribed and the need for a new site will only increase in the years ahead. We strongly believe that our plans would meet the current and future needs of Barnet children and that they would have minimal impact on the Green Belt.”
David Meyer, Executive Director of Partnerships for Jewish Schools (PaJeS) said: “The Mayor’s decision to overturn the planning permission for the new site at Hasmonean is a very disappointing one, which will potentially have a serious impact on the secondary school provision for the community.
“Schools are already heavily oversubscribed and with an expectation that numbers will continue to increase in the next few years, it is difficult to see how this need can be met without the redevelopment of Hasmonean.”
A Barnet Council spokesperson: “We are considering the Mayor’s decision, and look forward to engaging with Hasmonean School in due course, to ensure that the educational needs of children in the borough can continue to be met effectively, while respecting the importance of the green belt.”
Hasmonean’s boy school