Controversial two storey St Albans primary classroom block set to be given go-ahead

ID shot of Prae Wood School

ID shot of Prae Wood School - Credit: Archant

The go-ahead for a new two storey classroom block, additional car parking and games area at a St Albans primary school looks set to be given today, despite objections.

ID shot of Prae Wood School

ID shot of Prae Wood School - Credit: Archant

Herts county council’s development control committee has been advised by officers that it should grant planning permission for the expansion of Prae Wood Primary School in King Harry Lane.

But St Albans district council has objected to the application on the basis that the two storey classroom block is of a scale and design that ‘fails to relate’ to the main school building.

It has also objected to the proposed new car parking layout, to allow for eight more vehicles at the front of the school.

There were six objections from residents, who said that King Harry Lane was already extremely busy, and that the two-storey block would be “overwhelming and oppressive, especially so close to the footpath”.

A further concern was that there was a “lack of additional facilities, for example dining, to cater for increased pupils”.

Designed to meet the increasing, long-term demand for reception places in the local catchment area, from 1FE to 2FE from September next year, the scheme includes a new single storey activity block, and the relocation of the vehicular entrance gates.

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A report to the committee said that since 2011, several reception classes at Prae Wood had been expanded on a temporary basis “to cope with sibling bulges” and an increase in demand for school places.

It added: “While there have been efforts to secure a site for a new school, the many constraints of the historic settlement of St Albans limit the opportunities.

“Therefore the application seeks to expand Prae Wood School to two form entry (60 reception places) on a permanent basis from September 2016.”

A mixed use games area is mooted for part of the existing grassed playing field, but floodlighting is not needed as the hours of use would be restricted to the daytime.

County councillor for St Albans south, Sandy Walkington, said: “Looking at the changing population and the demand for places, these additional school places are absolutely necessary.”