Last few days of public consultation into new Harpenden secondary school scheme

PUBLISHED: 06:00 14 November 2017

Farmland bordering Common Lane on which Herts county council is keen to build a new secondary school for Harpenden.

Farmland bordering Common Lane on which Herts county council is keen to build a new secondary school for Harpenden.

Archant

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A public consultation scrutinising the proposed site for Harpenden’s fourth secondary school comes to an end this week.

The group Right School, Right Place (RSRP) is objecting to Herts county council’s planning application to build a fourth secondary school on farm fields east of Common Lane off Lower Luton Road at Batford, known as Site F in documents.

Campaigners claim residents are overwhelmed by the 400 planning documents relating to the scheme, with significant blocks of information still missing, and have slated HCC for not making printed copies available for local examination.

An RSRP spokesperson said: “Widely acknowledged to be the wrong location for a secondary school, the prominent steeply sloping site on an already over-capacity Lower Luton Road is an unpopular, contentious, high impact and high cost development proposal.

“It’s now more than four years since HCC first told local residents about their plans for a secondary school on Batford farm fields. Four years where HCC has consistently declined to discuss their intentions, saying that the appropriate time is at planning. That time is now.”

The school, which will be named after pioneering local botanist Katherine Warington, is set to open in September 2018 with Tony Smith, the current deputy head at Roundwood Park, as headteacher.

The public consultation looking into the site is due to close on Thursday, with a planning application on the scheme due to be considered by HCC on December 12.

A petition urging the county council to reconsider building the school on the site was started by individuals concerned about the safety implications of pupils walking to school on this busy route.

Thomas Parrott, vice chair of Harpenden Parents Group (HPG), said: “There are many people who are in favour of the school planning application and we encourage them to continue to share that view in the planning consultation.”

HPG chair Ben Bardsley said: “There is a clear, identified need for additional secondary school places in the Harpenden planning area. Harpenden town is the most logical, practical and sustainable place to meet this need.

“There are no brownfield sites available and the site must therefore be in the Green Belt. The clear and urgent need for the school amounts to very special circumstances necessary to justify development in the Green Belt.”

Mr Bardsley also insisted that the proposed site has good public transport links, and the school itself will offer educational opportunities for the town and villages, as demonstrated by the number of applications it has already received for the 2018 to 2019 school year.

The petition opposing the site can be found here: https://www.change.org/p/hertfordshire-county-council-reconsider-the-decision-to-build-a-new-harpenden-school-on-the-site-east-of-common-lane/u/21992011

The planning application can be found here: https://cloud1.atriumsoft.com/HCCePlanningOPS/loadFullDetails.do?aplId=26370

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