Vision unveiled for new Radlett school on former hospital site

Clive Glover (right) speaks to visitors at the Harperbury Free School public exhibition

Clive Glover (right) speaks to visitors at the Harperbury Free School public exhibition - Credit: Archant

Initial plans for a new secondary school on a former hospital site have been unveiled at a public exhibition, in a major step forward for the long-running project.

The Harperbury Free School Trust will shortly submit a detailed planning application to St Albans district council for the redevelopment of part of the former Harperbury Hospital grounds off Harper Lane in Radlett.

Offering 840 places, the 11-19 mainstream school will serve families from its core catchment of London Colney, Bricket Wood, Park Street, Chiswell Green, Radlett and Shenley, along with Elstree and Borehamwood.

Just seven months ago the Department for Education (DfE) and the Education Funding Agency (EFA) dashed hopes the school would open initially at a temporary location in September this year, ahead of the application being submitted for a permanent location at the former hospital site which is in the Green Belt.

Seventy pupils who had accepted places at the school were forced to look elsewhere as governors were told by government officials that it could not open temporarily in Borehamwood, and there were concerns about the likelihood of obtaining planning permission to build on the land.

Back in 2013, following a three year campaign led by local parents, the DfE approved plans to open a new school.

The trust pinpointed the former hospital site as its preferred location as it has been lying mostly empty since the 1990s.

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The EFA secured the site from the Department of Health on behalf of the trust, within the 230-acre former hospital grounds.

Schools Minister Lord Nash later signed off the capital budget to build the school, giving the go ahead for planning applications to begin in earnest.

There is currently no secondary school between St Albans and Borehamwood, which means that all children from that area need to travel many miles to school.

In addition, a planning application has recently been submitted by Bloor Homes to build around 200 new houses on part of the site.

Founder governor Clive Glover said that there had been a ‘positive response’ to the preliminary plans at the public exhibition, although several people raised concerns about traffic and parking.

The proposal includes small and large teaching areas, ‘super-studio’ spaces for more flexible teaching, and a sports hall.

Clive said the application would be lodged with the district council by the end of this month, and “we are quite optimistic because we have done a huge amount of work and we have tried to meet all the requirements of local planning department”.