Secret plan for new school on Harpenden Green Belt

The proposed site for a new school off Lower Luton Road The proposed site for a new school off Lower Luton Road

Friday, September 27, 2013
6:12 PM

Harpenden residents are “absolutely livid” at being kept in the dark about a county council proposal for a new secondary school on Green Belt land.

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About 150 angry locals from Batford and Wheathampstead attended an emergency residents’ meeting on Sunday after receiving late notice of an attempt to pave the way for a new school.

On Monday, the Herts county council’s (HCC) cabinet agreed to press ahead with the compulsory acquisition of up to 15 hectares of farm land on the corner of Common Lane, off Lower Luton Road.

The acquisition would provide a development site for a new school with a capacity of six to eight forms of entry.

But locals are fuming as there has been no consultation with them.

And just Common Lane residents recently received a letter from Cllr for Harpenden north east David Williams about the proposal.

Annoyed locals have contacted the Herts Advertiser, expressing their concern at receiving just 10 days notice about cabinet’s vote on the compulsory purchase.

One Lower Luton Road man asked, “why are HCC acting in this underhand manner?”

He added: “This is not the place to put a new school. Our local councillors are either in the dark, or keeping us in the dark.”

Other residents said people were “absolutely livid” and that it was “outrageous” plans for the purchase had until recently been discussed behind closed doors at the council.

Wheathampstead parish Cllr Judy Shardlow said: “While Harpenden and the villages undoubtedly need a new school, which will almost certainly have to be located in the Green Belt, this location is completely unsuitable.”

She warned that developing the farm land would “destroy the separation between Wheathampstead and Harpenden”.

Cllr Shardlow said it was a strategic planning issue that must be discussed locally, by St Albans district council, rather than “high-jacked upon a community by the county council without any input or consultation”.

Cllr Williams said forecasts had shown a “critical shortage” of secondary school places in Harpenden by 2019.

He said there had been no attempt to hide the purchase, as negotiations with the landowners are at a “preliminary stage”.

Cabinet member and Cllr for Harpenden south west Teresa Heritage said it was vital that HCC both prepares for, and meets the future need, for additional secondary schooling in the area.

Council figures show Harpenden will suffer a shortage of 41 places by 2014/15, which will dramatically increase to 228 places by 2019/20.

Cllr Chris Hayward, cabinet member for education, said if a decision is made to build on the site, it would go through a full planning application.

5 comments

  • We all want a new school to support this area in Hertfordshire, however, is this the right place? The traffic on the lower luton road is already horrendous, the road is dangerous, the local residents have not been consulted and feel betrayed by their council representatives, we already have a local secondary school, our drainage is already at breaking point, the list goes on and on. Please do not rush into this site because we are so desperate for a school lets get a school but put it in the best place.

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    Rebecca Choudrie

    Friday, September 27, 2013

  • We all want a new school to support this area in Hertfordshire, however, is this the right place? The traffic on the lower luton road is already horrendous, the road is dangerous, the local residents have not been consulted and feel betrayed by their council representatives, we already have a local secondary school, our drainage is already at breaking point, the list goes on and on. Please do not rush into this site because we are so desperate for a school lets get a school but put it in the best place.

    Report this comment

    Rebecca Choudrie

    Friday, September 27, 2013

  • Whilst welcoming the prospect of a new school in the area I can't help feeling this is not the best location. Anyone who lives here knows that the road is extremely busy and is frequently visited by traffic coming off the M1 during closures. It is also narrow in places and it only takes one small incident to gridlock traffic. There are no traffic calming measures on the estate which is bound to be used as a rat run during the drop off and pick up times. Pavements near the primary school have only just been repaired where vehicles constantly mount to make way for oncoming traffic which is impeded by the parked cars. Serious thought needs to go into this project before any final decisions are made.

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    Starlight

    Saturday, September 28, 2013

  • Every one knows that a school is needed in Harpenden or nearby. I would even welcome one in my 'back yard'...but not on our Green Belt. Right school, wrong place.

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    Right School Wrong place

    Sunday, September 29, 2013

  • Has the work been done to consider how existing school capacity can be increased? I remember a secondary school in Wheathampstead was closed a few years ago, which seems short sighted by those in office if there is now a shortage. Located in the green belt doesn't mean a brownfield site cannot be sought first, and i read that 90% of children in Harpenden go to their first or second choice school, which is an enviable percentage and above average, does that imply another school is needed or just some extra capacity?

    Report this comment

    Parsons Green

    Sunday, September 29, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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