Harpenden seconday school campaign meeting this Sunday

Sir Andrew Motion and Kevin FitzGerald Picture by Nigel Keene

Sir Andrew Motion and Kevin FitzGerald Picture by Nigel Keene - Credit: Archant

Secondary school campaigners are holding a meeting on Sunday (6) to update local residents and parents about the current situation.

It follows the decision by Herts county council to engage a specialist planning consultant to review its proposal to provide a new secondary school on a Green Belt site on the corner of Common Lane, off Lower Luton Road, in Batford, Harpenden.

Right School Right Place (RSRP), set up because of concerns about the proposed Batford location, is holding the meeting at 4pm in All Saints Church, Station Road. It will include updates from a local county councillor and representatives from the Harpenden Secondary Education Trust which is set to apply to the Department for Education for the new school in the autumn.

RSRP has carried out its own survey of need in Wheathampstead and Harpenden East, the two areas most affected by the county council’s proposals for a school in Batford.

The pressure group maintains it shows what they have been concerned with for some time - that the consultation process into the Batford school failed to take proper consideration of Wheathampstead. More than four in five respondents to the RSRP survey from Wheathampstead and Redbourn felt that sites in the two villages should have been included and evaluated.

David Cairns, chair of RSRP, said: “Since HCC’s announcement of a preference in September 2013, we have seen other evidence that there are parts of the planning area where pupil access to secondary education is compromised.

“HCC’s proposal to concentrate secondary education in East Harpenden is unlikely to address these imbalances.”

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Meanwhile countryside campaigner CPRE Herts have welcomed the news that brownfield sites are to be examined as possible secondary school locations in Harpenden. They have consistently opposed further incursion into the Green Belt.

Hon.Director Kevin FitzGerald said: “It is not for developers to decide, by submitting planning applications, whether land can be removed from the Green Belt or not. All too often, this is what we are seeing happening.

“We are pleased to see that, before invading this Green Belt farmland, steps are being taken to find alternative sites.”

Mr FitzGerald has received a national CPRE award for his outstanding voluntary contribution to campaigning for Herts countryside for almost 35 years.

He was presented with the award at the national CPRE annual meeting last week by president Sir Andrew Motion who said: “Kevin’s motto is ‘in it for the long haul’, and this has been borne out by his years of dedication to CPRE and the enthusiasm he brings to his work.

“It is thanks to people just like Kevin that we can still escape to our patches of tranquillity and serenity, fill our lungs with fresh air and tramp our favourite footpaths.”