St Albans’ Oaklands College submits £13.8 million plan for Smallford Campus

PUBLISHED: 11:47 11 December 2010

St Albans City and District Council

St Albans City and District Council

Archant

OAKLANDS College is seeking approval of new plans for its Smallford Campus as it now wants to build a multi-storey teaching block, sports hall and eight sports pitches, including three all-weather ones, at a cost of £13.8 million.

The college was forced to revise plans for the 118-hectare site after funding collapsed for a substantial redevelopment that it was granted permission for in 2009, following a call-in inquiry.

This comprised a college “hub” building of about 32,000 sq m and 62 residential units.

St Albans District Council is now considering the more modest version, with a decision expected by February 6 next year. The Smallford Campus lies within the Green Belt.

The new plan seeks approval for a two-to-three storey teaching block for art, fashion and design, A-level, Access to Higher Education and entry level students who have a range of learning difficulties or disabilities.

Art, fashion and design lessons are currently being held in former construction workshops at the college’s St Albans city campus.

Describing its existing sports facilities as “very limited and of poor quality” the college’s application said new pitches would enable an extension of its academy programme to include women’s rugby.

It wants a new eight-court sports hall and additional grass and synthetic turf pitches, to enable year-round coaching and playing.

The application said: “The all weather pitches would comprise two floodlit hockey pitches and one floodlit football pitch.

“The grass pitches would comprise four football pitches and one rugby pitch, none of which would be floodlit.”

Floodlights

Public consultation on the plans highlighted neighbouring residents’ concerns about floodlighting. However the college confirmed “no floodlights are planned for the pitches next to Hatfield Road.”

The college is aiming to have the pitches in place by September next year, and the proposed teaching block and sports hall by September 2012. It also wants to create three ponds, for drainage.

A college spokesman said funding for the £13.8million project was on the back of both the recent sell-off of its Borehamwood campus, and the ongoing sale of its city campus.

He confirmed there were plans to either demolish or remove buildings and structures on site, including a disused plastering barn, an old storage shed and demountable classrooms to free up space.

However the impressive Mansion House would not be touched. Most of the educational buildings at Smallford date back to the late 1950s.

Information presented to council includes details of protected and notable animals within a 2km radius including bats, “a single badger,” and 10 recorded sightings of grass snake.

Archaeological work 13 years ago showed areas of Bronze Age, Iron Age and medieval archaeology across the site, but subsequent work as recently as 2009 failed to reveal any historic deposits.

The college said it “desperately needs improved buildings” as it has a major backlog of maintenance work, including re-wiring, new boilers and heating systems.

It is keen to deliver other education improvements at Smallford and intends submitting planning applications for these at a future date.

These aspirations include refurbishing existing buildings to the north east of the site “together with enabling development of 62 dwellings located over the existing glasshouses.”

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