Government puts Hasmonean expansion ruling ‘on hold’

Government puts Hasmonean expansion ruling ‘on hold’

Intervention by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid throws lifeline to Jewish school's plans for redevelopment

Sajid Javid
Sajid Javid

The Government has intervened in Sadiq Khan’s decision to block Hasmonean’s expansion plans, which have now been put ‘on hold.’

Last week, plans to expand Hasmonean High School were thrown into jeopardy after Sadiq Khan overturned Barnet Council’s decision to grant planning permission. Khan ruled that the impact of the current plans on green belt land is “excessive” and told the borough to refuse permission.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid intervened in the issue, after a request was sent to the National Planning Casework Unit on Friday, calling for him to “call in” the Mayor’s decision. The Government has the power to overturn the Mayor’s guidance following the request.

Following the intervention by Javid, a meeting has been set up between the Mayor’s planning officers and the school to discuss the application

The chairman of the School’s Building Committee said: “We hope that the forthcoming discussions with the Mayor help to resolve the situation so that we can go ahead with our plans to provide the much needed additional space”

In a letter to the council, Khan wrote last week: “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.

The Mayor added that 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.

Last week, David Meyer, Executive Director of Partnerships for Jewish Schools (PaJeS) warned that the Mayor’s decision “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.”

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.

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.

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