St Albans primary school plan must factor in traffic and parking

MORE work needs to be done on the traffic and parking implications if a new primary school opens in St Albans city centre.

St Albans planning policy advisory panel is calling on the county council to fully investigate what a new primary school on the site of the University of Herts faculty of law in Hatfield Road would mean in terms of extra traffic and parents parking to drop off their children.

The county council has been talking to the university about taking over the law faculty building to create a new primary school in the city centre where places are at a premium.

In addition they would want to purchase land behind the Liberal Club and the Museum of St Albans to increase the size of the site.

The proposal is one of several designed to ease the current situation which resulted in numerous parents living in the city centre failing to get a place at any of their three preferred schools last summer and having to settle for places further afield.

As well as creating a new school in Hatfield Road, the county council is expanding Margaret Wix primary school in New Greens from one form of entry to two and creating an “all-through” school for primary and secondary ages at Francis Bacon in Drakes Drive.

Cllr Chris Brazier, the district council’s planning portfolio holder and chairman of the panel, said that from the county council’s point of view, the faculty of law would be perfectly capable of being adapted as a primary school.

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But he went on: “There needs to be more work on the impact on the highway issues. It is near the junction with St Peter’s Street, a pedestrian crossing, a roundabout and there is a perception that everyone drives their children to school.

“If there are cars parked on both sides of the road there could be huge problems.”

Cllr Brazier said the panel would also be asking the county council if it had thoroughly explored the possibility of expanding existing schools before going down the Hatfield Road route.

He added: “Admittedly councillors don’t tend to like temporary classrooms but if you have people dropping off children in Hatfield Road it is going to add to city-centre problems.”

n Twenty one district councillors who have links with the Liberal Club in Hatfield Road which could sell its land as part of the school project have been given special dispensation to speak on the issue should it come to committee.

Under normal circumstances, their comments could be seen as prejudicial but they have been given permission to participate in and vote on any issues relating to the land at any relevant committees.