Harpenden Schooling     2018

 

Feb 5. 2015 Site F in Common Lane Batford confirmed for the location of the new Harpenden Secondary School

Teresa Heritage confirms details below:

I am writing to you as I know that you are interested in the provision of  new secondary school for Harpenden. Today the Committee Papers for the Education Panel of HCC on 13th February will be published, available from 2pm at http://www.hertsdirect.org/your-council/civic_calendar/enterpriseedskills/18319888/ and the County Council has identified its preferred site as Site F, being the original preferred site on Common Lane in Batford.

 

The decision is based on a report from Vincent & Gorbing where all identified possible sites which might be suitable for the provision of a new secondary school to serve Greater Harpenden are considered. It identifies that most of these would not be acceptable in land-use planning terms. Three sites are identified as sites where planning permission could potentially be obtained. These are sites A (on the land behind Bloomfield Road), D (land to the north of Batford) and F (land off Common Lane) on the plan attached as Appendix 1.

 

Of these three which are potentially acceptable, with appropriate measures being taken to mitigate damaging consequences, Vincent and Gorbing identify site F as, at the present time, and in consideration of all the supporting evidence, the preferred site. A copy of the report prepared by Vincent and Gorbing will be  available on the Council’s website, with the exclusion of those elements which remain commercially confidential.

The V&G report and corresponding documentation, map of sites and updated FAQs will be available from late afternoon today at  www.hertsdirect.org/newschools

 

The Education Funding Agency (the national body that will approve the new Secondary School) is aware of the work that has been undertaken on behalf of the Council.  The Vincent & Gorbing material will be made available to them and is sufficient for them to move now to start the process of making a planning application should they choose to do so. The EFA is aware that the Council would be willing to consider working positively with them to progress the acquisition of a site and the securing of planning consent, should that be helpful.

 

Current status  for secondary school places in Harpenden

 Secondary applications for 2015/16 have been received for this area and initial analysis indicates that the number of applicants has, as the forecast suggests, increased. Whilst there continues to be no capacity to provide additional places at the Harpenden secondary schools HCC has agreed that, alongside the additional places at Sandringham, St Albans Girls’ School will also admit 14 additional pupils (up to 210 pupils) this academic year to help increase capacity in the area. This progress report is available on the website here http://www.hertsdirect.org/docs/pdf/h/harpschooljan    

 County Councillor Teresa Heritage

Cabinet Member for Public Health & Localism, Hertfordshire County Council

County and District Councillor for Harpenden South West Division

Tel: 01582 761014

Harpenden’s New Secondary School Meeting Sept 16

More Questions than Answers. By Ron Taylor. Editor. Harpendia.com


















Over 220 parents packed the canteen in Roundwood Park’s Senior School expecting to hear a positive update on the progress of the new School. Organised by Harpenden Parents Group, there were ten panel members on stage to provide information and answer questions. The sense of anticipation was palpable. After an introduction by HPG’s Chair, Ben Bardsley the next thirty five minutes were devoted to the background details on the need for the school. (Information already well known by most of the audience)

This section was concluded with comments from Deputy Director for Children’s Services, Education, Herts County Council) Andrew Simmons:

“we want the school to open as quickly as we can”

“we have to have an informed and robust decision”

AND from the Harpenden Secondary School Trust, Philip Waters:

“we are confident on the delivery of full service on day one of the opening with seven classes, A school to meet the needs of Harpenden with high quality education”.  However he did reveal that they were short of a School Trustee with an accountancy background to manage the school finances. A national recruitment ad. would be placed soon.

Once the Q & A session was announced the real purpose of the meeting got under way with a flurry of raised hands.


I have segmented these audience questions and the answers (about the new school opening only) from panel members into the following sections.


The Choice of Site F

Research on the criteria for all the nine initial locations by the consultants Vincent and Gorbing had confirmed that only site F was suitable for a secondary school. The other eight has serious failings for one reason or another. There would be NO further reviews of these sites.


The Purchase of the Land on Site F (Common Lane. Batford)

As part of the Government agreement for the School development HCC would have to purchase the land. Progress on this went unanswered as it was described as being commercially sensitive. If a deal with the land owner failed to materialise HCC would apply for a Compulsory Purchase Order. When questioned on how long this could take HCC said “up to two years”

A budget provision of £7.5 million is already in place to acquire this site and one in Croxley Green.


Seeking Planning Permission

Once the land is acquired planning permission can be sought. This process will be administered by the EFA and will take up to 16 weeks. Doubts on this not being approved were dismissed as the ‘comprehensive and robust’ plan was felt to be totally ‘safe’.


The Design and Building of the School

The EFA (Education Funding Agency-not present) are responsible for the design and build of the School.They have several standard designs to suit various requirements, one of which would be selected. The build would be organised and managed by the EFA taking one year to complete.


Options for schooling senior pupils if the school does not open in Autumn 2017.

If Site F has been acquired then temporary buildings could be installed where schooling could commence. OR places would be sought at other schools in the area. As an example, Sandringham School in St. Albans are expanding and could take up to sixty new seniors in 2017. All four senior schools in Harpenden would work together to ensure adequate placement of the senior children.


Infrastructure Improvements

There were questions regarding the need to improve local roads. A budget of £5 million was available for ‘Transport mitigation’ .


Implications of the Archeological Findings on site F

An audience question was raised about the report published in early Summer by Alexander Thomas a PhD student and Teaching Assistant in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Bristol. The report followed the successful geophysical survey on site F on March 14th - 15th. The results strongly suggest the field does contain the remains of buildings associated with Batford Mill built prior to 1766 and evidence of Harpenden’s Anglo Saxon heritage, perhaps a Great Hall. Apparently Vincent & Gorbing have assessed the report and do not believe there are any implications to stop or delay the planning application. When questioned after the event HCC’s Mike Evans told me that it would take a request from a body like English Heritage to reconsider the implications. NB. The report has already been validated by the National Monuments Record at Swindon.


Next Public Meeting

Requests by parents for another meeting in early Jan 2016 were agreed. Date and location to be sorted by HPG.


Information Updates

1. Parents were advised to go online to the HCC  at :

www.hertsdirect.org/services/edlearn/aboutstatesch/newschools/harpenden/

and the new school’s web site:

https://www.harpendensecondaryfreeschool.org

OR email County Councillors David Williams and Teresa Heritage.


2. At present the archaeology report is available to view at Hertford (HCC) by request from the Historic Environment Officers.  It has not been validated yet by SADC (i.e. Simon West, District Archaeologist).  Once validated by SADC the report will be downloadable from the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/  and it will then be readily available to the public and can be used as official evidence in a planning application.


  1. 3.Alex Thomas has advised: Mike Evans’ comment that “it would take a request from a body like English Heritage to reconsider the implications” is misleading and breaches guidance in the National Planning Policy Framework  (2012; chapter 12, point 139: p.39): “Non-designated heritage assets of archaeological interest that are demonstrably of equivalent significance to scheduled monuments, should be considered subject to the policies for designated heritage assets.” The interpretation of what constitutes a scheduled ancient monument can vary greatly from landscape to landscape.


The Panel of Experts (below) Far left standing. Ben Bardsley Chair, Harpenden Parents Group. On the left seated:Harpenden Secondary Schools Trust (HSST) Philip Waters Chair HSST and University of Hertfordshire. Tony Smith HSST Project Manager and Director of Operations, Roundwood Park School. Herts County Councillors. David Williams Member, Harpenden North East and Cabinet Member for Enterprise, Education & Skills.  Teresa Heritage Member, Harpenden South West and Cabinet Member for Public Health & Localism.

Herts County Council Officers Andrew Simmons Deputy Director for Childrens Services, Education. Pauline Davis Head of School Planning Rachael Greenlees Senior School Planning Officer.

Glenda Hardy Head of Admissions and Transport. Angela Bucksey Assistant Director, Property.

Mike Evans Head of Estates and Asset Management



Big step forward for new secondary school in Harpenden


Hertfordshire County Council is pleased to announce that a site for a new secondary school in Harpenden has been secured.

Contracts were exchanged on Friday (15th January) with the owners of land adjacent to Lower Luton Road and Common Lane. Had the site not been secured through contractual negotiations with the landowners, the county council made it clear that it was willing to invoke compulsory purchase powers to secure the site if necessary.













The new school will be built by the Education Funding Authority (EFA) once further studies have been carried out on the site.

In the meantime, we are entering into detailed discussions with the EFA and the Harpenden Secondary Education Trust on the next steps of the delivery programme, with a view to the school opening as soon as possible. 

         

David Williams, (below) Cabinet Member for Enterprise, Education and Skills, said: “I know how important this much-needed new school is to the area, so I’m delighted that our work on acquiring the site has come to a successful conclusion.  The EFA and the Trust can now concentrate all their efforts on the next steps of the programme.”


Progress reports will be available at www.hertsdirect.org/services/edlearn/aboutstatesch/newschools/harpenden/


Opening of new Harpenden Secondary Free School deferred until Sept 2018

The Harpenden Secondary Education Trust has today informed the Department

for Education (DfE) that it is requesting a deferral of the opening of the

Harpenden Secondary Free School to September 2018. It is with deep regret that

this decision has been made.

The project was approved by the Department in May 2014 with the Trust’s

project partners, Herts County Council, the DfE and the Education Funding

Agency (EFA) responsible for delivering the land, financing and building the

school. The county council was asked to acquire the site in March 2015 and

contracts were exchanged on land adjacent to Common Lane in January 2016.


It is always very difficult at the start of such a big project to set timescales

because there are so many unknowns and some aspects of the project have taken

longer than anticipated. Regrettably this has meant that the timeline to open in

temporary accommodation on a permanent site with full planning permission

cannot be met. The partners have wrestled with the timeline in order to meet the 2017 date as we realize that the school is of vital importance to families with children who live

in the local area. However, having taken the advice of the EFA, the Trust

reluctantly accept that this is no longer viable.


The request for deferral has yet to be approved by the Minister at the DfE. The

timeline for 2018 opening would see the school opening with much of the full

permanent structure completed but deferral allows more time to procure a

contractor and to achieve planning consent to build the school.

The Trust remains fully committed to the opening of this school as the need for

additional secondary school places in the area intensifies and the existing

schools cannot expand. Once the Minister has made a decision, a timeline for

2018 opening will be published on our website


Philip Waters, Chair of the Harpenden Secondary Education Trust said:

'Whilst we regret very much the unavoidable delay to the planned opening date

of the school, the overwhelming priority of the Trust remains to ensure that the

school opens on its permanent site in order to serve the long term needs of

Harpenden and its surrounding community. '


The Head teachers of Roundwood Park, Sir John Lawes and St Georges added:

“Whilst we are naturally disappointed that the opening of the new school has

had to be put back, we will continue to work together to develop the Trust’s

vision of a school which provides the very highest quality of education and

opportunity for all its students.’


NEW SECONDARY SCHOOL – MORE MONEY NEEDED FROM TAX PAYERS PURSES?

On Monday, Herts County Council (HCC) Cabinet heard an urgent request to contribute funds to the build of the proposed fourth secondary school in Harpenden. Two and a half years ago, HCC brought forward an urgent proposal to buy land for the school in such haste that it apparently did not have the time to consult residents. Recently HCC announced it had received a request from the EFA (the central government body responsible for establishing new Free Schools) for a contribution to provide funding for the school build.

This latest request however was even more urgent than in 2013, bypassing most of the normal assessment processes. In doing so, HCC of course excluded any opportunity for residents and voters to be involved. In 2013, when residents formally complained about lack of consultation, they found HCC had also circumvented consultation when it had first drawn up plans for the site in 2010.


Should residents be surprised? Unfortunately not, despite many views expressed elsewhere in the 6 years this has been in the making, the pattern is all too familiar. Herts County Council has studiously avoided any formal consultation which would oblige it to take the views of interested parties into account, and it remains alien to HCC culture to be open with residents. This week, matters were so urgent that special provisions were needed to rush through a decision at a Cabinet Meeting, urgency based on an assertion that the EFA wants an answer by Friday (22nd April). Those following school project progress might raise an eyebrow or two at the surprise revelation. Wasn’t this the same County Council who 14 months ago published a set of reports, stating that the sole reason for publication was to give those reports to the EFA in support of the Trust’s application? One of the reports in the pack was very specific. It estimated costs at £60-65m, approximately £30m more than the EFA typically provides for such projects. Has it taken over 12 months for the EFA penny to drop that this is an excessively over-priced option?

HCC offered no explanation as to why the matter had only come to light at such short notice, nor what the compelling reasons were for a decision to be taken so quickly, so RSRP formally challenged this on Thursday 14th April. When HCC continued to show no inclination (in its initial response) to explain the urgency or provide details of the nature of the financial commitment, RSRP further challenged the lack of justification on Monday 18th April. HCC did eventually agree to explain the urgency and source of funds at their Cabinet Meeting on Monday 18th April (where the urgent school item was tabled). In response to residents’ challenges, HCC stated that the urgency arose because the EFA made a request on April 7th for HCC’s to confirm its commitment to fund school build costs no later than 22nd April. HCC added it had asked for a deferral but had been refused by the EFA. It also stated that Council Officers had been “negotiating” with the EFA for what it described as a considerable period of time, so it is a mystery why this (request) should come as a surprise. It is also a mystery why there is such urgency when, as recently as February, the Trust and Council jointly presented a programme which does not see any build works until summer 2017. Why a decision now? The Council has indicated this is an internal need within EFA, but the key signing-off decision date is not until after the Trust’s consultation – scheduled for April 2017.

The mystery deepens when considering the funds. Herts County Council has indicated that these will come from Schools Capital Basic Needs Funding, but has provided no details on scale of either cost or whether this means funds are being diverted from other projects in the County. What is clear however is that the general principles of setting up a Free School were that any school would be independent of former Local Education Authority, with EFA funding development centrally. The Harpenden Secondary School was the first in which Central Government required a Local Authority to purchase land (a cost normally borne by EFA when a site has to be acquired). Coincidentally, the land cost was not present in HCC’s consultant’s estimates that were published before the EFA had sanctioned the school.

Herts County Council already has £7.5m earmarked for this unusual land expense (shared between Harpenden and sister project at Croxley Green). Original estimates appear to have been one quarter of this amount – and yes the Council hid behind “confidentiality” when it made its initial announcement of that ‘unexpected’ allocation of public monies. However should residents be more concerned about this latest allocation (which HCC has again declared confidential) or the resolution that called for authority to be given a County Officer to decide a final amount?


So ratepayers are left to decide what the Council has committed to on their behalf, and what the consequences may be for them. A shortfall of £30m on the table, coupled with a history of gross underestimation of (land acquisition) costs. Then there is a 1.99% HCC Council Tax rise this year designed to raise £10m extra. The prospects are not bright, but doubtless the Council have their plans on how to cover the £30m and will tell us what we need to know, when we need to know it – but only at the last minute when we can’t question whether they have any idea about what they are doing.

Key concerns however still remain, and remain unanswered. The Council’s decision making processes have so far identified and promoted a site which has serious practical flaws. It is estimated to cost in the order of £15m more than other sites (sites more suited to where the school place needs are), some of which they identified and rejected on questionable grounds. Many have questioned the need for places, and more particularly how long the need lasts and where the long term residual need for secondary places is.

On the same day as making an open-ended commitment to fund a school project, HCC also published the Primary Allocation Statistics for September 2016 entry. Preliminary analysis of these show that applications numbers from Harpenden are 9% down on the previous year at 454, the two larger villages in the area are also reduced, Redbourn by a similar percentage at 74 applicants, while Wheathampstead had a smaller reduction and continues to have over 100 applicants – more than half a secondary school worth of future transferees.


What is surprising is that, for once, the number of applicants for Harpenden broadly matches HCC’s forecast of demand. That forecast, however, predicts a further drop over the next 2 years of 100 applicants – essentially signalling a reduction of 150 applicants (or a whole secondary school entry cohort) from Harpenden Town within a decade. Despite sceptical views of HCC’s planning ability raised by Parents Groups long before the foundation of RSRP it is now clear that the peak of demand has passed. Even at its maximum there are insufficient applicants to fill 3 schools from pupils who live in Harpenden Town (that peak is less than 500); the need is, and always has been, with the pupils who live in the surrounding villages. HCC seeks solely to direct these pupils to Harpenden, even though the prospect is that (by the time a fourth school may be fully operational), half the pupils attending schools in Harpenden town will travel in to town for their education. With the falling in-area demand, the potential is then for this fourth school to take pupils from outside the planning area, leading to even longer school journeys and more road traffic.

One of RSRP’s core contentions has always been that a school should be built where it best serves the need, and the evidence continues to mount that the most sustainable place for that is Wheathampstead, where the greatest need is

Nov 30 Archaeological Gold Mine found in Batford?

Local archaeologist Alex Thomas believes he has uncovered evidence which shows a Roman industrial building - a rare find, an ancient street system and (from earlier surveys) a possible building identified by postholes. He has also identified pits which might also have something to do with the deneholes as they could also be tunnel entrances.
















The Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey conducted on Batford Field, on the corner of Common Lane and the Lower Luton Road, (see photo above) In Spring 2016 produced strong anomalies consistent with a large rectangular building constructed of brick or stone. The results also provide evidence of remnants of structures to the south, closer to the Lower Luton Road, and evidence of an earlier road layout. These results together with the documentary archive provide compelling evidence to suggest the building remains present beneath Batford Field are of an early date. If these features are brick built buildings and the documentary evidence does not

provide evidence of a building of this size during a period when brick was favoured then the obvious conclusion would be to place a Roman (50AD – 400AD) date on these features.






















FROM HARPENDIA MAGAZINE AUTUMN 2015

Local archaeologist and PhD student at the University of Bristol, Alex Thomas (above) had also been invited to give an update on his fieldwork on the corner of Common Lane and the Lower Luton Road.  In March this year Alex and his team from Bristol conducted a series of geophysical surveys in the field to establish whether the buildings of Batford’s now demolished Bonny Boys Farm might still be intact under the soil.  The results were startling and unexpected.  Not only are the foundations still there, but there was also evidence of other structures.  Over the past few months Alex has consulted with colleagues at Bristol and also experts at the University of Cambridge and the Museum of London.  Local residents were thrilled to discover that there is strong evidence to suggest that the field may be the site of an Anglo Saxon Great Hall. In addition  strange concave features in the field have been

tentatively identified as prehistoric and there is evidence of tunnelling beneath the fields.  Alex was keen to point out that much, much more work is needed to establish the role of Batford in Harpenden’s history, but early signs suggest that this was an extremely important site.

Click on the link below to read the full report


Batford Interpretation.pdf

Wed Nov 16.2016

New Secondary School building opening delayed again.

The Education Funding Agency (EFA) carry out discussions with a number of experienced construction contractors about the site and the Harpenden Secondary Free School. The Trust has input into the tender document and bidders day where the contractors will be invited to see the site and meet the Trust. The EFA to appoint a contractor to take the project forward in partnership with the Trust and Hertfordshire County Council.

 

Spring 2017: Once the contractor is selected then they and the EFA develop designs and plans for the site. This will lead to a public consultation, offering residents the chance to view and comment on the proposals as they progress. This will be held before a planning application is submitted, offering the chance to see the emerging project.

 

Autumn 2017: Once plans have been prepared and consulted on, a planning application will be submitted, which will then be assessed and decided upon by elected councillors.

 

Spring 2018: With a successful planning application, construction to begin on site, including temporary accommodation as necessary.”


So if the build starts in Spring 2018 will it open in Jan 2019? It will take a miracle. Ron Taylor. Editor

 

More problems for Harpenden’s new Secondary School?

There are a number of concerns among the local community and some of these were further researched before forwarding this article to you.  This included contacting Planning and Archaeology at SADC about the nature of the apparent development, contacting David Williams in his role as Education Portfolio holder at HCC and checking on the status of the land.  The status of the land is that Land Registry still records the land as owned by the relevant family Trust and no parcelling of the land has been registered.  (This was checked last week).  DW advised that the land was being fenced to segregate the strip(s) of land being retained by the current landowner – as agreed by HCC in their negotiations that concluded in January 2016 – and that the immediate purpose was to ensure that surveyors due imminently to undertake investigative works on behalf of the EFA (Education Funding Agency – the central government body that controls funding for new schools) would know which part of the land to work on. 


SADC were alerted for two reasons – it is not known what works are being initiated and if Planning permission is required and because the site has significant Archaeological potential and previously initial investigative works appeared to pay no heed to this potential as they involved drilling in a manner that did not visibly suggest any precautions were being taken to prevent damage to buried Archaeology.  SADC have since responded – while Planning Enforcement will check that works are undertaken in a manner that conforms to requirements, the District archaeologist has confirmed he is aware but also, in a comprehensive reply, has indicated that until a Planning Application is brought forward there is little that he can act on and then it is likely to be conditions within a planning permission relating to investigation, unless the developers have pre-empted with a suitable study before permission is applied for.


The changes mean that the land set aside for school development now requires a site entrance close to the Lower Luton Road / Common Lane roundabout and will direct all traffic (construction and users) into an area in the South West corner of the site – the corner where the main archaeological potential lies.  The timetable outlined for development – start work in Spring 2018 for occupancy (by pupils) from September 2018 – seems disproportionately aspirational for any building of that scale and raises concerns about how due regard to archaeology can be provided.  


Local residents are further perplexed by the revelation that HCC seem to have agreed to a school that now needs to sited further up the slope with all its incumbent difficulties including likely increased cost, further narrowing of the gap in the Green Belt and, by virtue of the implicit positioning of facilities, a much more visually intrusive building.  As yet there is no commitment to mitigation of traffic concerns that are inherent with the site and these may even have been accentuated by the land negotiation. 


Added concerns are bound to arise when potential applicants’ parents realise that children are likely to be entering and leaving the site in close proximity to construction traffic for months if not years to come. 


In preparation for the programme which HCC have confirmed the School Trust statement of not commencing until Spring 2018, it also appears that the farmer has been all but expelled from the land as it would appear that while the landowner granted an extension of grazing rights and use of the barns, this amounted to about 10% of the land previously available for grazing and, not surprisingly this is unlikely to be a sustainable solution.  It would appear HCC, with their interest in the balance of the land, did not extend grazing rights to any of the land despite it not being planned for development for 12 months.  This has led to further scepticism about HCC motives as they failed on a promise to keep residents informed of developments / material changes and, of greater concern, Council Members stated that the purchase would not be completed and the land would be returned to agricultural use if no planning permission was secured for a school – likely to be all the more difficult when it seems HCC have contributed to pushing the farmer off the land and creating the conditions for Green Belt release and housing development.



In the meantime a local resident has responded to the developments by starting a petition for HCC to reconsider its site selection / evaluations, citing many of the reasons above and also asking whether the potential Central Beds housing developments adjoining North Harpenden (as reported by yourself in Harpendia) have been included in evaluations.  The petition is on change.org at Hertfordshire County Council: Reconsider the decision to build a new Harpenden School on the Site East of Common Lane


I WILL BE MAKING FURTHER INVESTIGATIONS OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS.

RON TAYLOR. EDITOR

May 4. Comments below from  ‘right school right place’ following fencing being erected in mid-April on the Common Lane site.  It has the appearance of splitting the site into an element for likely housing development – possibly in two stages.  In parallel it is understood that the “landowners” also submitted part of the sectioned off area as a possible site for housing development to SADC under their call for sites published late 2016.  While this is a speculative process it leads to publication in the SHLAA documents that are referred to in the Local Plan. 

May 5 Latest information from David Williams

1. (ESFA) has approved the appointment of Kier as the Lead Contractor for the new Harpenden Secondary Free School. They will lead on the design and planning application to build facilities for the new school.

  1. 2.The ESFA will work with the Harpenden Secondary School Trust, Kier and Hertfordshire County Council, as Education Authority, to submit a planning application.

  2. 3.Hertfordshire County Council as Highway Authority requires Transport Assessments to support all development proposals that will have a significant impact on the transport network. This planning application will need to be supported by a Travel Plan and Transport Assessment. Our busy roads dictate the need for a thorough analysis and appropriate mitigation measures.

  3. 4.Kier will also be responsible for the construction of the new facilities, with the aim of providing the first facilities on-site for September 2018. The contractor intends to hold a full pre-application consultation before any plans are submitted.

  4. 5.The Batford Farm land retained by the vendor has been fenced-off from the land being acquired for the school.


Comments from Tony Smith, project manager for the fourth school.

  1. 1.Following lengthy consultation with the Trust regarding all the educational aspects of the build, such as subject classroom adjacencies, office locations, sports centre provision, toilet design etc., both companies have now presented their initial plans of how they see the school.

  2. 2.The next stage is for Kier and Bam to submit their tender proposal within the next two weeks. These will be reviewed and a decision made regarding the most preferred tender.

  3. 3.Our existing timeline is therefore accurate – there will be two rounds of public consultations regarding the further development of the design within the coming months, with planning submission still scheduled for the autumn.

  4. 4.Full funding for a fourth secondary school and the confirmation that the opening date deferral request to move the proposed opening to September 2018 have been agreed.


END


HOW REALISTIC ARE THE ABOVE COMMENTS? A PLANNING SUBMISSION OF THIS SCALE WILL TAKE SOME CONSIDERABLE TIME TO APPROVE, WILL IT NOT?

SO WHAT SORT OF SCHOOL BUILDING AND ANCILLARY BUILDINGS CAN BE COMPLETED IN LESS THAN 12 MONTHS?


PARENTS WILL BE DEMANDING ANSWERS!

Ron Taylor. Editor

June 26. Founding Headteacher

of the Katherine Warington

School appointed


Harpenden Secondary Education Trust proudly announces the appointment of the founding Headteacher of the Katherine Warington School.  The successful applicant is Tony Smith, currently Deputy Head at Roundwood Park School in Harpenden. Tony was selected from a national field of applicants after a two day interview process. He takes up the position from January 2018.


July 11. FIRST WITH THE NEWS.

Harpenden’s new Secondary School public consultation exhibition drew a mostly positive response on Mon July 10.

The purpose of the exhibition was to inform and seek the views of parents, local residents and other interested parties. Display panels showed all aspects of the new school, with architecture images, floor plans and school playing fields. Plus explanations about the planning process. Representatives from ESFA, Kier (the developer), the architects and the school inc new Head, Tony Smith (below centre) were on hand to answer questions.


The impressive exhibition showed confidence in the school’s future with positive comments from all official parties. The aim being to seek final sanctIon for the project and take account of all views before producing the planning application in the early Autumn.











It is hoped early approval will enable the building of the Sports Hall to start in March 2018 with completion in 5 months to facilitate the first intake of pupils in Sept 2018. Building on the rest of the site will continue throughout 2019.


Several parents I spoke to were very pleased to learn about the progress, although one was rather disturbed to find out his son could start his new term in a Sports Hall.


Some members of the Right School,Right Place group were adamant that the project was totally unnecessary with official HCC figures showing an ongoing decline in the need for senior school places.



NB. NO MENTION WAS MADE ABOUT THE RECENT ARCHEOLOGICAL FINDINGS

 

Further information is on the school’s website

Aug 31. STATEMENT FROM THE HCC MEDIA CENTRE .RE.THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVALUATION NEAR BATFORD.


"An archaeological evaluation is currently ongoing in a field near Batford in advance of a planning application being submitted for a proposed development.  This is a normal part of the pre-planning application process that was undertaken due to the potential for finding buried archaeological remains within such a large development area.


"So far the evaluation has discovered archaeological features potentially dating from the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Anglo-Saxon periods.  This process will take time and, as the work is still ongoing and a final report on the findings has not been produced, we are as yet uncertain as to the significance of these remains.  St Albans City & District Council is aware of the work and all necessary permissions are in place. "


Comments from a parents meeting in Sept 2015

  1. 3.Alex Thomas has advised:  Mike Evans’ comment that “it would take a request from a body like English Heritage to reconsider the implications” is misleading and breaches guidance in the National Planning Policy Framework  (2012; chapter 12, point 139: p.39): “Non-designated heritage assets of archaeological interest that are demonstrably of equivalent significance to scheduled monuments, should be considered subject to the policies for designated heritage assets.” The interpretation of what constitutes a scheduled ancient monument can vary greatly from landscape to landscape.






Sept 28. The Planning Application details for Harpenden’s new Secondary School. The Katherine Warington School

I’m writing to let you know that following the consultation events in July, a detailed planning application has been submitted on behalf of the Education and Skills Funding Agency and Hertfordshire County Council for a new 6 form of entry 1,150 pupil secondary school, the Katherine Warington School, on land north of Lower Luton Road, Harpenden.

 

Hertfordshire County Council is the freehold owner of the application site and has a significant interest in the development. As such, the planning application has been submitted to Hertfordshire County Council under Regulation 3 of the Town and Country Planning General Regulations 1992. St Albans District Council, the Local Planning Authority, is a statutory consultee.

 

The application details and all the supporting documents have been published online. Here is a  

The many supporting documents have been grouped on the website in a series of .zip files.

 

With this being an application for a Green Belt site that needs to demonstrate “Very Special Circumstances”, the application includes many technical reports to support the “sequential testing” of the alternative sites that were considered. These sites were labelled A-K. I attach a plan showing the locations of these sites.

 

Consultation responses are sought by Tuesday 14th November 2017. Further Information on the Council’s planning procedures are here. The Making your views known tab provides contact details. In addition to the online representation form, comments can be submitted to the Case Officer, Mr Chay Dempster, via email to spatialplanning@hertfordshire.gov.uk or post to Spatial Planning & Economy Unit, County Hall CHN216, Pegs Lane, Hertford SG13 8DN. It is anticipated that the application will be considered by the Council’s Development Control Committee in December.

 

Residents living in the area bounded by Pickford Hill, Sauncey Wood, Mackeyre End, Manor Road, Marquis Lane and Station Road will receive a neighbour notification letter from the Council.

 

David Williams

Hertfordshire County Councillor for Harpenden North East

Deputy Leader of the Council I Cabinet Member for Resources, Property and the Economy I Mobile 07733225464

 

OCT 6. DO YOU WANT TO SEE THE DETAILS ABOUT: The Planning Application for Harpenden’s new Secondary School.

The Katherine Warington School?

EG. THE ROAD LAYOUT














EVERYTHING ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW CAN BE FOUND AT THIS LINK.

Once in please click on the documents tab on the right:

https://cloud1.atriumsoft.com/HCCePlanningOPS/loadFullDetails.do?aplId=26370

FEB 19. Harpenden’s New Secondary School given go ahead by Herts County Council.

The planning decision is an important step forward towards Harpenden's new secondary school.

NEXT STEPS: The application will now be sent to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government given the scale of the development in the Green Belt. In rare cases, the SoS can 'call in' (review) the planning authority's decision.

Separately, Kier (the school constructors) will need to consider the build time frame in light of the planning conditions. All stakeholders are acutely aware of the time pressures ahead of planned September 2018 opening.


Tony Smith. Founding Headteacher said “We’re delighted with the decision of committee members to unanimously resolve to grant detailed planning consent for a new secondary school on the Lower Luton Road in Harpenden at the meeting this morning (19th Feb)

Katherine Warington School will not only deliver an academic education of the highest standard but an environment in which children can acquire the skills ready for a happy and productive life.

When we have the decision in writing with details of the conditions, Kier the appointed constructors will advise us and the ESFA regarding opening timelines.”


Cllr Annie Brewster (Wheathampstead) argued that the Lower Luton rd was an unsafe walking route and was pleased that a free bus service would be available for all Wheathampstead children attending.


County Cllr Teresa Heritage said “I know that families are excited with the prospect of starting at the new school in September”


Ben Bardsley (Harpenden Parents Group) said "This is welcome and long overdue good news for parents and children who have been campaigning for a new school to address the chronic and deepening shortage of places in the town.  The unanimous vote of Herts County Council's Development Control Committee, the support of St Albans District Council, Harpenden Town Council, our local MP, County Councillors and huge numbers of local residents demonstrate very clearly that this is the right school in the right place.  Parents and children are looking forward to the great opportunities presented by Katherine Warington School and the outstanding educational prospect put forward.  We continue to hope that the final steps can be completed to enable opening of the school in September 2018."


Opposition group Right School, Right Place said “We look forward to the Secretary of State exercising his right to call-in  this application because this proposal requires  the completely independent  review that this would provide”

March 2.  Positive Comments from The Harpenden Society

GREEN LIGHT FOR HARPENDEN’S NEW SECONDARY SCHOOL

It seems to have been going on for quite a time but at last the new secondary school, Katherine Warrington (KWS) has finally been given the go ahead by Herts County Council to be built. The site for the new school is in the fields east of Common Lane, off the Lower Luton Road in Batford.


KWS will be the fourth secondary school in Harpenden and will eventually have capacity for 1,150 students. The proposal also includes plans for playing fields, tennis courts and a multi- use games area that will also benefit the local community. Hopefully the new school will put an end to the annual disappointment of Harpenden children who are not allocated a place at a Harpenden secondary school.


Although many parents are delighted by the decision there are still concerns regarding traffic congestion in the Batford area that is already very busy during the morning and evening rush hour. KWS, along with all the other schools in Harpenden, both Junior and secondary, will be working to support transport issues by working with their students in raising awareness of Road safety issues and encouraging more students to walk, cycle and bus (secondary) safely to school.


Harpenden is a special town and its children enjoy a wonderful education at both junior and secondary levels. The new school, under the Headship of Mr Tony Smith, will work tirelessly to deliver an outstanding education and provide its students with the opportunity to further their careers and lives when they leave school.


Educationally this is a very exciting time for Harpenden and its young children.

Chris Armitage. The Harpenden Society, Education working group.

NEW SCHOOL OPENING CANCELLED UNTIL SEPT 2019

 

Department officials have been working closely with Harpenden Secondary Education Trust to ensure Katherine Warington School will offer high quality provision upon opening. Following notice of the planning decision on 15 March 2018, we have re-evaluated whether it is possible to still open in September 2018. We have determined that delivery of a temporary school within the sports hall on the permanent site is no longer possible within the timescales available, and the opening date will be rescheduled.

 

Alternative options have been assessed, but the constraints of the planning conditions and the requirement to level the site would compromise the programme of works for completion of the main school buildings for the 2019/20 academic year. We will continue to work closely with both the trust and Hertfordshire County Council towards a September 2019 opening and are confident the school will make an important contribution in meeting the demand for secondary school places in Hertfordshire from 2019 and beyond.

 

Harpenden Secondary Education Trust commented:

 

It is extremely disappointing for the students and their families, and also for ourselves that the decision has had to be taken to defer the opening of Katherine Warington School. Harpenden Secondary Education Trust has always stated that it would not open on a site that provided a sub-optimal experience for the students and therefore that we would only consider opening on the permanent site. We had already agreed to compromise our vision by being prepared to open in temporary accommodation on that site, firstly when it was suggested we used the adapted permanent sports hall and subsequently by offering to open in temporary classrooms. However, due to delays in obtaining planning permission, the ability to open in the built and repurposed sports hall then in other temporary accommodation on the designated site is no longer possible.

 

We have considered other possible solutions to achieve a September 2018 opening, specifically temporary classrooms on one of the existing secondary school sites or other school sites and finally any repurposed building to house students for up to a whole academic year. As experienced school leaders we do not currently feel that any of the proposed compromises are acceptable. Firstly, to requisition a non-educational site anywhere within the Harpenden area is clearly unfeasible, inappropriate and absolutely contrary to the original aims of the trust to provide an excellent education experience for the students. Opening at another school outside of Harpenden does not answer our parents wish to attend schools in the locality. Finally it was not possible to accommodate enough temporary classrooms on one of the existing school sites and the additional pressures on communal spaces such as the canteen and hall, specialist classrooms and increased transport volumes would result in a second rate educational experience for Katherine Warington students and students at the host school.

 

We have become increasingly concerned that the experience of the first Katherine Warington School intake under these circumstances would not be comparable to that of students at the other Harpenden schools. The Trust continues to be committed to establishing a school which provides an outstanding educational experience in a learning environment that meets the needs of all the students in our care within the community we serve. We want Katherine Warington School to be a school of choice for parents and children in our community and we believe a positive experience for its first cohort will be crucial in helping us achieve that aim.

It is our intention, working with ESFA, Department for Education and HCC, to have a completed, newly built school ready for September 2019.

 

A spokesman for Hertfordshire County Council said:

 

We note the commitment of the Harpenden Secondary Education Trust and the DfE to continue to work towards a successful opening in September 2019 and look forward to this much needed new school serving the local community. In the meantime we will work with existing schools to see whether additional places can be made available for September 2018. We expect to have this work completed by 5th April but in the meantime we would urge parents to remain on the Continuing Interest List which will be run again between 21st – 27th April

 

Katharine Warington School

Conditions for development from Herts County Council.

15th March 2018.

An abbreviated list to show the scale of work required


1. School to be completed with 3 years

2. Samples of all building materials to be submitted and approved.

3. Boundary fences, walls or hedge details to be submitted and approved.

4. Car park areas and internal road details to be submitted and approved..

5. Floor levels and exterior ground levels to be submitted and approved.

6. Screening facilities for storage of refuse to be submitted and approved.

7. External lighting for internal drive ways, paths car parks to be submitted and approved.

8. NO external floodlighting allowed.

9. Noise levels during build to be submitted for approval.

10. Construction hours limited to Mon - Fri 7am-6pm and Sat. 8am - 1pm

11. No occupation of Phase 1 or Phase 2 until all car parking and turning areas are completed.

12. No commencement of building until a Construction and Traffic Management Plan and Access to Common Lane; Lower Luton Rd  and the proposed crossing of Lower Luton Rd plans has been submitted and approved. Plus relevant Highway Improvement works.

13. An updated Travel Plan and a Bus Strategy Implementation plan will need to be submitted and approved prior to occupation of Phase 1. To be submitted and approved.

14. Updated Infiltration and Ground Condition tests; final Detailed Site Drainage tests; Final Overland Flow Management Arrangements, Final Design and Engineering Details re Surface Water; Flood Risk Assessments; Drainage Strategy for Sports Pitches and Landscaped areas; Landscaping Enhancement Schemes to be submitted and approved.

15. Ecology Surveys re badger occupation of site and an Ecology Management Plan to be submitted 6 months prior to first occupation of main School. To be submitted and approved.

16. Soil Handling Methology and Sports Pitches Construction and Maintenance assesssment plus Noise Assessment to be submitted and approved.

17. Archaeology Written Scheme of Investigation to be submitted and approved before any build.

18. An Energy Use Statement to be submitted and approved.

May 1. Permission for Judicial Review granted on planning decision for the Katherine Warington School.

Herts County Council  have advised that there is an application from David Cairns / Right School Right Place for permission to judicially review its Planning Decision on KWS.

A submission was made to the court on Thursday April 26– the last day available under the 6 week rule.

This represents an attempt by opponents of the school to block the build going ahead, despite its unanimous approval by Herts County Council's planning committee and approval by the Secretary of State.

In the light of the recent secondary school allocation nightmare for many Harpenden families.


Harpenden Parents Group continue to support local families still awaiting news of a local school place for this September.

COMMENT FROM CLLR DAVID WILLIAMS

We have been informed by HCC that they have received Court papers from Downs Solicitors, representing Right School Right Place, confirming that they have applied for permission to judicially review the County Councils Planning Decision dated 15 March 2018. The application for permission was made on Thursday 26 April 2018, being the last day of the 6 week judicial review period.

 

We will keep you updated on any developments as we are informed by HCC. At this stage, it is our understanding that this will not interrupt the schedule of work currently underway to open the school for September 2019.

 

David Williams

Hertfordshire County Councillor for Harpenden North East