Green Belt concerns halt Hasmo plans for second time

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Green Belt concerns halt Hasmo plans for second time

A contractor was ready and 50% of funding secured but it's back to the drawing board for orthodox Jewish secondary boys' and girls' school plans to study on same premises

Hasmonean Boys' School
Hasmonean Boys' School

Plans for Hasmonean boys and girls to study on the same site have hit a roadblock after strict environmental Green Belt regulations once again made them highly unlikely to succeed. 

As recently reported by Jewish News, Barnet Council had granted planning permission for both secondary schools to be located on the same site at the girls’ school on Page Street in Mill Hill.

The long-awaited news had come after growing concerns that the boys’ campus was becoming over-stretched, with twice as many students as it was originally designed for. The approval by the council gave hope that both genders would now learn at the girls’ current site.

However, in a message to parents seen by Jewish News, sent from the Chair of Trustees, and CEO of the Trust comprising both schools, Hasmonean MAT, strict Green Belt planning regulations mean there is no other option but a return to the drawing board for other ideas:

“The school has continued to work very hard to find a way to accommodate all of the Year 7 Boys who wish to join the school in September 2023. We have worked with the Regional Schools’ Commissioner to agree that we could take the additional boys and were hopeful that we would be able to locate the new Year 7 on a separate area in the Girls’ school grounds.

“We identified a contractor who could provide a complete temporary classroom solution and we found approximately 50% of the funding. In addition, the school has undertaken the very complex task of creating a timetable to manage the logistics for this.

“However, despite our best efforts after several meetings with Barnet Council, and despite our proposal being supported by Councillors Peter Zinkin and Dean Cohen and one of the best local planning consultants, we have been informed that it is unlikely to succeed. This is because the Girls’ School is in Green Belt and this has the strictest planning regulations; the planners insist that we must follow these without deviation, even if we only use the land on our school site for 18 months and then put it back exactly as we found it.”

Chair of Trustees Gary Swabel and CEO of Hasmonean MAT Andrew McClusky said they “continue to work on a number of options” and remain hopeful that a solution can be found, “however we are dependent on council support on these and are awaiting their responses.”

In 2017, as reported by Jewish News, London Mayor Sadiq Khan overturned Barnet council’s decision to grant planning 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.”

At the time, he also said there were a lack of “sustainable transport measures” to support the plans.

The schools say they will continue to try to find a workable solution for the families on the waiting list.

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