Free school’s move to former Hackney cop shop back on after long delay

Empty: the old police station on Lower Clapton Road. Photograph: Knight Frank

A free school’s move to a former police station in Hackney Central is expected to go ahead “in the very near future” – after years of planning delays and recent troubles with “illegal” squatters.

The Olive School, run by Tauheedal Education Trust, is currently housed on temporary sites in Stoke Newington and Shoreditch.

The Trust first applied to use the old cop shop as the school’s permanent home in 2016 – after the building on Lower Clapton Road was snapped up by the government’s education funding agency two years earlier for £7.6 million.

But that bid was rejected by the council’s planning committee following concerns over the impact it would have on traffic congestion in a conservation zone – despite a consultation showing overwhelming support for the move from local residents and others.

A spokesperson for the Trust has now confirmed that an appeal last year against that decision was successful, and that it “hopes to start work in the very near future”.

The long-empty site has also had difficulties with squatters.

A local resident, who does not wish to be named, recently contacted the Citizen to complain about a “huge rubbish dump implemented by illegal travellers”.

The Trust’s spokesperson said: “Squatters took occupation of the site over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend. Control has since been recovered and there is now a 24/7 security presence on site.

“Waste had been dumped in the rear compound area. However, clean-up works were completed last week following appointment of contractors.”

It is the second time squatters have tried to occupy the building, and it is understood a group gained access over Easter by removing a barrier that was installed following the first attempt.

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