Government urged to intervene in Hasmonean expansion ruling

Government urged to intervene in Hasmonean expansion ruling

Communities Secretary asked to rule on Sadiq Khan's decision to overturn Barnet Council's green light for school's redevelopment

Sadiq Khan
Sadiq Khan

The Government has been urged to intervene in Sadiq Khan’s decision to block Hasmonean’s expansion plans.

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.

But, Jewish News has learned that a request has been sent to the National Planning Casework Unit calling for Secretary of State Sajid Javid to “call in” the Mayor of London’s decision.

Although this request does not guarantee a reversal of the Khan’s action, Barnet Council cannot move ahead with Khan’s until the Secretary of State choses whether or not he will intervene. The Government has the power to overturn the Mayor’s guidance.

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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