Charedi plan to buy Skinners' School

Hackney's Charedi community is to renew its efforts to buy the old Skinners' School after councillors rejected a home-building plan for the site.

The planning sub-committee voted 5-4 against Berkeley Homes' proposal to knock down the school and build luxury homes. The decision was greeted with delight by local Charedim who packed the public gallery.

Members of the Belz, Satmar and Lubavitch communities maintain that the site should remain in educational use.

Campaign leader and Yesodey Hatorah Schools' principal Rabbi Avraham Pinter told councillors that Hackney's urban development plan "fully recognises the vital importance of education and fully recognises the special educational needs of the Charedi community, which represents eight per cent of Hackney's population and more than 20 per cent of children under 16. Most of our schools are in substandard residential buildings.

"And here we have three school buildings on a 1.3 acre site, in the middle of Stamford Hill, which your officers are recommending are destroyed to build luxury homes that nobody in Hackney can afford. This cannot be right."

After the meeting, he said: "As a responsible company, Berkeley, which is building a lot of homes in the area, knows the importance of having a good supporting infrastructure and the value of the site for educational purposes. I am sure they will now look at their options and one of them is to sell it for educational use."

Chabad Lubavitch chief executive Rabbi Bentzi Sudak also welcomed a "common sense" decision. The Skinners' site was "a ready-made facility that would be perfect for any one of our schools.

"Lubavitch has been trying to buy the Skinners' School site for almost 20 years and we hope that the decision by Hackney Council will encourage Berkeley Homes to listen to our offers so that we can ensure the best educational future for the next generation of UK Jewish leaders."

    Last updated: 3:45pm, March 18 2010