Golders Green school faces closure threat

By James Martin, March 12, 2009

A strictly Orthodox school which has operated from a house in Golders Green Road for five years without planning permission is under threat of closure.

Beis Medrash Elyon has had a retrospective planning application deferred until April by Barnet Council to allow more time for consideration of its claim of special grounds for being granted school status.

Speaking after last week’s planning sub-committee meeting, a council spokesman explained that should consent be refused, the school could appeal to the government’s Planning Inspectorate.

Should this also be rejected, “the council may consider a prosecution or an injunction [for closure]. If action was taken, it would be before the start of the new academic year.”

In 2004, the school was refused planning permission on the basis of disruption to neighbours. An appeal in 2006 also failed and and an order for its closure within 11 months was ignored.

Principal Rabbi Isaac Lebovich insisted that the 50 pupils were not unruly: “Our boys don’t break things and they’re not disruptive to the local community. This school is vital for the Jewish community. There’s not a state school that can provide the mix of secular and religious education.”

The private school is described by Ofsted as preparing boys aged 11-14 for life in a junior yeshivah.

Last updated: 3:43pm, July 22 2009