Campaigners have an idea: How about turning empty old police station into… a police station?
CNJ exclusively revealed how building had been put up for sale
22 April, 2021 — By Harry Taylor
The unused police station
CAMPAIGNERS think they have the perfect idea for Hampstead Police Station which has stood empty for eight years.
How about using it as a police station?
The New Journal exclusively revealed last week how the building in Rosslyn Hill is back on the market after its owners, the Department for Education, abandoned its attempts to convert it into a primary school.
Camden Council refused permission for the conversion and the planning inspectorate then ruled that Abacus Belsize Primary School could not move in.
The school is currently busing children to a temporary site in King’s Cross and says it is now searching for a new location in the Belsize Park area.
Campaigners who were part of the battle to try and stop the police station closing in 2013 now say that it should be put back to its former use and want the Met Police to buy the building back.
The base was shut by then London mayor Boris Johnson – now the prime minister – as part of a raft of cuts to policing in London.
There were claims it was outdated and underused, although the Grade II-listed station had previously survived a review in 2008.
Since then officers have been based in Kentish Town, with some neighbourhood teams also working out of the station in Fortune Green and a high street office in West End Lane.
Susan West, chair of the Hampstead Town Safer Neighbourhood Panel (SNP), who was one of those to campaign against it being shut down, said: “The closure of the police station was a mistake. Any move to reopen it would have my full support.”
Last week the Department for Education confirmed it would be sold after enquiries from the New Journal. The idea of a museum dedicated to music has also been suggested.
It’s thought that potential stumbling blocks to any sale might include the DfE looking to recoup the £14.1million it paid for it in 2014, as well as pre-existing concerns about development in the area, which saw the emergence of campaigns against the school moving in.
Linda Chung, another SNP member, said: “If [they] had any will or foresight, the police station should be restored to its original purpose, for policing and public protection. Besides being a central hub for the police force, it could be the perfect police college. Of course it needs work after all the years of neglect, but unless you want an ugly modern block, any older building would need modernisation.”
Nigel Steward, a former chair of the SNP said: “It’s laudable, and if money was no issue I’d have one in there in part of the building. “Having a station there meant there was visibility and you would see bobbies on the beat. It’s all online now and I don’t think there is the same level of satisfaction.”
The Mayor’s Office declined to comment due to rules around the upcoming elections.