Row continues in St Albans over siphoning of development cash

cllr Dreda Gordon

cllr Dreda Gordon - Credit: Archant

There is continued opposition to the siphoning of developer contributions to fund council projects in St Albans, including school expansion, in areas unaffected by approved schemes.

Herts county council recently provoked anger after promising nearly £1.3 million paid by developers of schemes in London Colney for the £2.7 million expansion of Sandringham School on The Ridgeway, Marshalswick.

The school is five miles from London Colney and just 11 of its 1,262 pupils live in the village.

The council’s move has won praise as it will result in Sandringham increasing its intake by 30 pupils, with 25 of those spaces guaranteed for applicants from Wheathampstead.

However others have said the money should be used to benefit London Colney pupils.

The largest chunk of Section 106 money – planning agreement funding – earmarked for Sandringham’s expansion is £1.2 million, from the redevelopment of Napsbury Hospital, which was turned into a major housing development over 10 years ago.

There was division over the issue which was debated at the recent full St Albans district council (SADC) meeting.

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London Colney councillors Dreda Gordon and Jacob Quagliozzi called for councillors to register the authority’s discontent with the county council’s decision to divert planning money from the village.

Cllr Gordon said: “This is a political removal of funds from children in my ward.

“My problem isn’t with the expansion but the way in which the county council is funding the project.”

But Cllr Simon Calder, who also represents the village, said that while it was an emotional issue, the Section 106 money should be used where needed.

He added: “It’s public money, it doesn’t matter where it comes from.

“We should help any child in the district, as long as they are going to school. You are getting a new leisure centre in London Colney.”

Cllr Mal Pakenham said: “Herts county council is top of the league tables in England and Wales for not spending Section 106 money. This is about fairness.”

Cllr Chris Brazier said the funding was meant to help alleviate developments within wards.

However Cllrs Gordon’s and Quagliozzi’s motion, also calling upon the county council to respect planning agreements, was defeated during a vote.