Blueprint for St Albans district’s future growth set out in black and white in detailed plan

St Albans district council wants people's views on the draft Detailed Local Plan, which sets out a l

St Albans district council wants people's views on the draft Detailed Local Plan, which sets out a location for Harpenden's new secondary school in the Green Belt. - Credit: supplied

Anxiety over the likely go-ahead of a new school proposed for Harpenden’s Green Belt could be eased after the district council signalled endorsement of the scheme.

Green Belt land in Harpenden next to Sauncey Wood School

Green Belt land in Harpenden next to Sauncey Wood School - Credit: Archant

Consultation has begun on the authority’s Detailed Local Plan (DLP) which sets out the overarching policies, principles and spatial vision for the district up to 2031.

The draft blueprint contains detailed planning policies, maps and other documents.

These set out the location of Green Belt boundaries and the design and layout of potential development, including housing, industry and infrastructure.

But there is one particular policy map of interest to parents in Harpenden who are keen to see a new secondary school built on the corner of Lower Luton Road and Common Lane – which is still very much at the proposal stage, with a planning application not yet submitted to the district council.

There has been concern that the school is unlikely to be built, as it has been mooted for a 42.8 acre farm in the Green Belt – a designation which presents myriad planning hurdles.

However, among the council’s draft policies maps is one that parents should take heart from.

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A star marks the site of Batford Farm in the updated plan, as an ‘indicative location of the new Harpenden secondary school’, which effectively helps pave the way for construction of the institution.

Furthermore, the council’s draft document states that “a site for a new secondary school to meet future needs in the Harpenden school planning area has been identified by the local education authority [Herts county council]. This site is located on the north side of the Lower Luton Road, to the east of Common Lane, as indicated on the policies map.”

Under another policy, it adds that detached playing fields and ancillary sports facilities for schools are regarded as a use that is - subject to site planning designs – “not considered inappropriate development in the Green Belt”.

The Herts Advertiser understands that this is a positive step forward for the proposed school as it further cements the local council’s commitment to see new schools built in the district.

It comes after the authority set out the need for a new secondary school in Harpenden in its draft Strategic Local Plan, where it states that locations, including in the Green Belt, will be identified in the detailed plan “to provide new secondary schools for St Albans, if required, Harpenden and East Hemel Hempstead”.

In the DLP it says “new schools, expansion of existing schools and detached school playing fields may be permitted in the Green Belt” if “very special circumstances are demonstrated” and “evidence of long term pressing public education needs will be regarded as a very special circumstance. “[But] it must be shown that no suitable location is available in areas excluded from the Green Belt.”