Trees threatened by Samuel Ryder Academy expansion plans

ABOUT 40 trees at a St Albans school would have to be removed should a major expansion project come to fruition in its present form, a district council officer has warned.

Herts county council and Sir John Lawes Academy Trust have submitted a joint application for the extension of Samuel Ryder Academy on Drakes Drive.

They have applied for permission to demolish buildings to allow construction of new buildings to provide for two forms of entry for primary age pupils.

The all-through school, on the site of the former Francis Bacon secondary school, is also seeking approval from St Albans district council (SADC) for a new learning resource centre, administrative facilities, hard and soft play areas and new car park.

However a council arboricultural officer has recommended refusal on the grounds that the development would result in the loss of screening and “skyline trees” facing Drakes Drive.

Although none of the trees on the site are safeguarded by a tree preservation order, the officer has warned the scheme lacks protective measures for them.

He said the extended built area, expanded car park and new access road would result in the loss of 39 trees, including 13 birch trees.

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The officer said if the council approved the application, it should set out conditions protecting the trees.

A design statement explaining the project said that HCC was providing capital funding for the scheme.

Buildings on the site have been converted to provide a private day care nursery for up to 60 children.

The combined proposed extension and nursery will enable the creation of an all-through academy for pupils aged from three to 19.

The statement adds that the school has capacity for six forms of entry. It currently has 326 pupils and “is operating at less than a third of its capacity”.

The scheme includes construction of a new vehicle access for emergency use only and pedestrian access. A total of 114 car parking spaces are proposed.

The application is still being considered by SADC.