School fields for sale in St Albans

Beaumont School head Mrs Elizabeth Hitch and schools facilities manager Ed Jones.

Beaumont School head Mrs Elizabeth Hitch and schools facilities manager Ed Jones. - Credit: Archant

Playing fields at an over-subscribed St Albans secondary school are expected to be put on the market before Christmas, paving the way for up to 75 new homes.

Although it is not known when the houses will be built alongside Beaumont School, Oakwood Drive, a spokesman for Herts county council (HCC) has confirmed that some of its fields will “shortly” be put on the market, once a sales agent has been appointed.

The sale comes two years after the school gained approval to have up to 75 homes built on the Green Belt following an appeal.

And the scheme, which was thrown out by St Albans district council (SADC) twice in three years, will help pay for improvements including a new sports hall and classrooms.

The HCC spokesman said, however, that any sale was conditional upon the creation of alternative, new sports pitches for pupils.

Until these are established on land to the north of Winches Farm in Hatfield Road, the current fields cannot be released.

In May 2011 a planning inspector overturned the district council’s second rejection of a joint application from the county council and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) for a housing development at the Hatfield Road end of the school.

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The inspector gave the go-ahead for up to 75 houses to be built on an area of 2.47ha, on part of the playing fields, citing “very special circumstances” to justify building on the Green Belt.

He said the housing would serve as an “enabling development” to finance Beaumont’s expansion proposals.

The county council owns the school site, while the LSHTM owns adjoining fields to the east.

At the time approval was granted, HCC said although it would provide significant improvements to the school including provision of a new access, the Beaumont scheme was a “specific case with exceptional circumstances” and did not represent a particular policy in relation to school playing fields.

On Tuesday (5) the council spokesman said: “Work on the new playing fields will take about a year from when planning approval is granted for the detail of the works. An application for that approval is in preparation now.”

It is understood that the new Beaumont fields should be ready by September 2015.

Planning permission granted for the scheme in 2011 included improvements such as a new access road from Hatfield Road, and new pedestrian and cycle links.