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In more than three and a half years since Herts County Council first told local residents about their plans for a secondary school on Batford Farm Fields, Herts County Council (HCC) have consistently declined to discuss their intentions.
Developments over the last few weeks seem to be another stake in that ground (excuse the pun). A fourth secondary school is proposed to cater for a forecast bulge shortfall in places for the Harpenden Secondary Planning Area (Harpenden and a wide arc of villages) that, because of delays, seems now largely past.
It’s hard to miss the new wooden posts appearing in Batford Farm fields recently. When questioned on April 6, County Cllr David Williams said: “This will be the fencing off of that part of the site that the council is not acquiring and which is being retained by the current owners.
“While writing I am aware that consultants working for the Education Funding Agency will being accessing the site shortly to undertake ground investigation works.”
Previous HCC (Herts County Council) information only included whole fields in their potential school documentation. HCC have also repeatedly declined to answer questions, saying that they will keep the public informed via their web site.
When asked about this change in the boundary/setting for the proposed fourth secondary school Cllr Williams added: “I’m not sure in what way this is at odds with what has previously been said. The vendor negotiated the land to be sold and the land acquired will meet the requirements of the new school. I can confirm that the EFA are fully aware of the archaeological potential of the site.”
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Given that the land negotiations between HCC and the farm owners happened at the end of 2015/early 2016, HCC have had almost 18 months to inform residents of that major change.
Fencing implies land set aside (for housing?) which until just recently was not part of any scheme.
With no up-to-date development plan the site is farmland identified by HCC to conserve/improve. It has not been designated as a school/housing site and Green Belt is subject to strict controls that apply until such time as a new adopted SLP specifies otherwise.
Archaeological surveys by PhD student Alex Thomas in 2015 and 2016 indicated a need for further investigation at Batford Farm Fields close to the current site of Batford Mill.
The published results, lodged with the County Archaeologist and other public record locations lead to a second more detailed survey carried out in April 2016, also lodged with the county.
That survey identified compelling evidence of potential Roman/other building and road remains (below the field) that pre-date previously documented farm buildings. Also examined in more detail were the two dene holes, long thought to be related to historic (chalk?) mining in the vicinity and potentially linked to the known Batford chalk tunnels documented in local history books.
The apparent depth and direction of a possible shaft revealed in the 2016 survey, coupled with the building anomalies and known historic road and water connections, perhaps points to a rare Roman industrial or trade centre.
NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) says: “Non-designated heritage assets of archaeological interest that are demonstrably of equivalent significance to scheduled monuments, should be considered subject to the policies of designated heritage assets.”
All this begs the question about just what HCC are planning and how this relates to information they have previously made public. What other surprises are in the pipeline?
DAVID CAIRNS Chairman, Right School Right Place
Your prolixious, often provocative, witty (only occasionally), and sometimes offensive correspondent Mr Cashin has a once-in-a-lifetime to find out how widely loved and admired he is by offering himself to the electorate in the forthcoming General Election.
The dilemma is - who would he seek to represent? UKIP - whose philosophy (in parts) is possibly not that far from his own - is trawling for a new candidate.
Mr Cashin’s pet hates - as disclosed so far - include dislike and intolerance of babies and toddlers, probably all children; mothers lawfully breastfeeding in public places; ditto colonising his previously patronised coffee shops; dogs; traffic wardens doing their jobs; pound shops lowering the tone; selfish older drivers obeying the speed limits; museums and art galleries; building sites with colourful hoardings; wildlife doing what ducks and geese do in the Ver lakes and ponds; local government corruption (detail hitherto undisclosed); and so on.
We don’t yet know his views on immigration or disability or poverty or social care or the NHS or Europe or the trade deficit or the £50 billion black hole in the country’s balance sheet, but there’s still time.
However there’s one small difficulty - the UKIP bank is dry, candidates have to fund their own election campaigns.
He could join the Open Britain campaign to dislodge the pro-Brexit St Albans MP whose views on Europe did not coincide with the majority of her electorate. Until her recent stink over dog poo bags Mrs Main’s reign has been “mostly harmless”.
Another small difficulty - Mr Cashin would have to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Lib Dems, a party with whom he has shown no affinity or sympathy (so far - chameleons change colour depending on the light).
Or the aforesaid could fly solo without any party constraints and be as off-message as the law permits.
Why waste all the years in your columns softening up his constituency with The Musings of Chairman Barry?
He’d have to find a catchy name - how about The Egocentric Party? The Oxymorons? Or UBAP?
ROBERT HILL Harpenden
In response to the lead article, ‘Have your say on flight paths’ in the April 6 edition we feel it is important to clarify a number of points that have the potential to be misunderstood.
Firstly the consultation is being conducted by the Civil Aviation Authority into the process for all future airspace changes across the UK.
This is unrelated to the review of the RNAV route which is due to take place later this year.
In addition the RNAV route was introduced in August 2015 and was not delayed.
Since its implementation there have been no further changes to the location of this flight path.
It is also important to bear in mind that this change was developed following feedback from local residents and followed rigorous public consultation and formal approval from the regulator.
Finally, we would like to make it clear that Luton Aiport has no intention of moving flight paths over central St Albans as suggested by Mr Hutchison of St Albans Sky.
It is important for all of our local communities to have a voice about any future airspace changes and we encourage everyone to take part in the CAA consultation.
NEIL THOMPSON Operations director London Luton Airport
Neil MacArthur of HarpendenSky.com states in his letter to the Herts Advertiser (April 13 – Not passing buck over air traffic) that his organisation is not campaigning to get Luton aircraft to fly further south and therefore much closer to St Albans.
Yet on his website, in his 2017 campaigning update he refers to a new centreline stating that “The potential RNP centreline would be between 200M and 800M south of the current RNAV centreline”.
Though this distance sounds small, it is very significant to the highly populated areas of north and centre St Albans, as every aircraft would then be deliberately routed to fly almost directly over them!
Am I to believe that, after the lengthy and very public RNAV consultation which balanced the interests of all Hertfordshire residents, that there is now a new sub-consultation going on which only takes into account the interests of selected Harpenden residents whilst remaining completely invisible to the residents of St Albans, who will be so negatively affected?
I wonder if Neil MacArthur could enlighten us on what RNP is and why it requires aircraft to follow a path south of the original RNAV.
Perhaps he could also tell us who is agreeing what with whom as regards to these alleged changes, and within what type of consultation framework, so we can all have our say.
Antonine Gate, St Albans
Neil MacArthur of Harpenden Sky asserts in his letter to the Herts Advertiser that he is not attempting to move the problem of aircraft noise elsewhere.
However an historical personal quote from Mr MacArthur seems to suggest otherwise. He said: “Why should Harpenden take almost the entire air traffic as is the case with easterlies and a disproportionate amount of the air traffic under different wind conditions - this is completely unreasonable and unacceptable. This is why www.harpendensky.com was established - to institute some justice and conformity into air traffic regulation and we intend to prevail.”
Harpenden Sky has been instrumental in lobbying the airport to eliminate the old flight path that ran close to Harpenden and test the current new problematic flight path running over north St Albans.
They are now working with Peter Lilley and Luton Airport to make a further amendment to run further south of Harpenden and even nearer to St Albans.
Lilley is quoted in a 2016 press release on his website as saying: “In the long run the best outcome might well be a complete rerouting of planes over the less populated areas west of St Albans”
Discussions with Harpenden Sky, various politicians and Luton Airport to move this further along the line took place at a meeting in October 2016.
The airport requested the meeting should not be published or advertised within the local community. St Albans Sky was not invited.
PETE HUTCHISON St Albans Sky
Have you ever tried the game of bowls? If not, why not? Here in St Albans we have three clubs including my own which is Batchwood Hall Bowling Club situated next to the new tennis and fitness centre on Batchwood Drive.
We offer open days where you will be warmly welcomed and need only bring a pair of flat shoes as all other equipment is provided. Our open days are followed by a four session “Bowls4fun” course. Then the sky is the limit!
Juniors have access to specialist training at different clubs in the county throughout the season, and these have proved so successful that some young players have gone on to represent the county in the Bowls England Championships.
Enjoy meeting like-minded people? Then put your name down for club matches and meet other teams at your club and on your opponents green in a spirit of friendly rivalry.
Contact Adrian Baddams on 01727 873137 or Christine Vickers on 01727 852540 for further details on how to get involved. PAT SAVAGE Batchwood Hall Bowling Club