An innovative partnership has won unanimous planning permission for a new primary school for up to 350 children, as well as 68 flats and a retail unit on the site of a disused London fire station.

The partnership between The Benyon Estate, the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and the Hackney New Primary School Trust was granted permission by Hackney Council’s planning sub-committee in January this year, and a Section 106 agreement has now been approved.

In April, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan told Hackney Council that he was happy to allow the local authority to rule on the application.

Now the final paperwork has been completed, work can start on the 1,734sqm school, a part two-storey, part three-storey building which will be capable of providing places for 350 primary school children, helping to meet an ever-increasing demand for places in the borough.

A new joint venture company has been formed with bespoke property developers Thornsett to help deliver the new school and homes. Thornsett’s local portfolio includes work on providing community facilities and housing at the Hackney Empire Theatre, and the refurbishment of a church and provision of a new vicarage, community space and homes at the RIBA National Award winning The Mission in Hackney Wick.

The primary school is currently in temporary accommodation at the nearby Hackney New School. When it opened in September 2015 there were 250 applications for 50 places, and there is currently a long waiting list.

In addition to the school are 68 residential units, a mixture of one, two and three-bed apartments, with a combined floorspace of 6,305sqm, and 298sqm of flexible retail with permission for class A1/A2/A3 use.

The Greater London Authority planning report considered by the mayor said: “The co-location of a school with a residential development, as enabling development, is fully supported.”

In addition, the developers will make a contribution of £1.5 million to Hackney’s Housing Supply Programme to support the delivery of new affordable housing in the borough.

Officers told Hackney’s planning committee: “The only way to accommodate affordable housing on site would be to change the design and increase the massing of the development. This would not be acceptable in design terms.

“As it stands, the proposed development will deliver a much-needed educational facility for the borough and allow the expansion of an existing oversubscribed educational facility in Hackney New School. In addition to providing good quality school accommodation, the development will deliver 68 residential units, for which there is also a strategic need, and that will assist in meeting the borough’s housing targets.”

The new school and homes will replace a disused 900sqm fire station within the Kingsland Conservation Area approximately 60m east of De Beauvoir Conservation Area, a 19th century estate modelled around De Beauvoir Square.

Commenting on the planning approval Edward Benyon of the Benyon Estate said:
“This is excellent news for the whole community and we are very pleased to be part of this very important project which will be key to giving our young people a great start in life.

“The Benyon Estate’s links with Hackney date back to 1640, during which time there has been a long history of supporting this community, particularly providing homes and workplaces.

“One of the biggest challenges we face as a community today is putting the right infrastructure in place for future generations and a key priority is helping to educate our young people.”

Mr Benyon added: “The educational funding available is not sufficient to meet the full cost of the proposed build which is why the Benyon Estate is working in partnership with the school and the EFA to provide this exemplary new building.”

The Benyon Estate will fund its part of the school project through the remainder of the development, which will also enable a contribution of £1.5 million to be paid to Hackney Council to help with the borough’s affordable housing needs.

Gerard Cunningham of Thornsett said: “We have a proud track record of working with communities across London and beyond to bring underused sites back to life and providing facilities and homes for local people.

“We are looking forward to working closely with The Benyon Estate and their partners to deliver a much-needed new primary school and homes for Hackney.”

The architects for the Hackney New Primary School are Henley Halebrown, and the planning consultants are CMA Planning.