Napsbury funds set to go to expansion of Sandringham School in Marshalswick
PUBLISHED: 15:07 20 January 2014
All of the pain but none of the gain is the accusation after a recommendation to divert about £1.3 million in developer contributions away from a village to help expand a school five miles away.
London Colney parish council and Herts county councillor for The Colneys, Dreda Gordon, said they were “absolutely furious” that local children would not benefit from developers’ funds paid for Napsbury Park and other developments in the village.
The furore erupted after the county council’s education cabinet panel on Monday recommended the cabinet gave the go-ahead to the £2.7 million expansion of Sandringham School on The Ridgeway, Marshalswick.
In a report to the panel, officers said the school had offered to expand by one form of entry, and to alter its admissions rules to accept more Wheathampstead pupils.
It is an interim measure to meet the growing shortage of places in Harpenden until a new secondary school is built there.
Sandringham would increase its admission number by 30, with 25 of those places guaranteed for applicants from Wheathampstead.
But the council has provoked anger by promising nearly £1.3 million in funds to the expansion scheme under Section 106 planning agreements paid by developers of schemes in London Colney.
The largest chunk is £1.2 million for the redevelopment of Napsbury Hospital, which was turned into a major housing development over 10 years ago.
While Cllr Gordon “recognised expansion was required” she maintained it was not fair that it was at the expense of local children.
She said children in the village did not have ready access to secondary schools rated “outstanding” by Ofsted, such as Sandringham.
Just 11 of the 1,262 pupils attending Sandringham live in London Colney – less than one per cent.
Cllr Gordon said the S106 funds should have gone instead to help Samuel Ryder and Marlborough schools.
Cllr Malcolm MacMillan, chairman of London Colney parish council, said: “If ever there was a case of municipal mugging, this is it. The council is absolutely furious.
“If we were trying to provide support locally then it would be to Marlborough. If there were developments in Wheathampstead and Harpenden, can you imagine the money coming to us?”
Cllr Chris Hayward, cabinet member for education, said money was being channelled to Sandringham from London Colney as “the places are being made available within the district”.
Fifteen classrooms will be built at Sandringham including science laboratories, a music/art room and additional dining space.
The school has submitted a planning application to St Albans district council. Cllr Hayward said it was not known when a new secondary school would be built in Harpenden.
Council figures show Harpenden will suffer a shortage of 228 places by 2019/20.