Planning permission for the extension and approval of a much-criticised ‘illegal’ school operating in Stamford Hill has been refused.
The site on 91 Amhurst Park has been running as an ultra-Orthodox Jewish faith school since 2009 – with around 354 pupils.
The plans were for a three-storey structure to be built at the back of the existing property. This was in addition to an application to formally change the use of the whole building to a school.
A petition against the plans has been signed by 150 local residents.
Those whose flats overlook the site have long contested the school, which was set-up without planning permission or approval from Hackney Council.
A number of concerns were raised about the new plans, particularly relating to noise pollution, travel disruption and unlawful, irregular operating hours.
Richard Taylor, a retired schoolteacher and local resident, described the school’s daily operation as “anarchy”.
“There are no qualified teachers, huge class sizes and unsupervised breaks,” he told EastLondonLines.
Although a legal Orthodox school already exists on the same road, Eli Low, who is the representative of the school’s benefactor, the Gilmoor Benevolent Fund, is concerned about facilities in the area.
“There are not enough spaces for schools for the Jewish community in the area and the council has sold off old schools sites to developers instead of us.”
The Gilmoor Benevolent Fund did not attend Tuesday’s meeting. No explanation was given for their absence, though Low stated there had been discussions between himself and a member of the planning committee prior to the meeting outlining their reasons for non-attendance.
Low told EastLondonLines they had started a process of appeal because of inaccuracies in the planning officer’s report. The late filing of many amendments to the report meant that they could not be heard at the committee and as a result, he described the planning permission refusal as “hugely biased and flawed”.
Simon Jones, representing the 150 residents who had objected to the plans, said: “We are pleased with the outcome, though we hope that a resolution will be found as this has been going on for years.”
There was a drop-in day organised recently in order to increase awareness of the school’s plans, which Eli Low described as a “huge success” with an “excellent turnout”. However, another resident, Jane Holgate said: “They have tried to engage in dialogue with the owners for 2 years and never, ever, received a response.”