Hertfordshire County Councillors approve of primary school expansion plans

First published in News by

Plans to expand 13 primary schools in Hertfordshire, including two in the St Albans district, have been approved by Hertfordshire County Council.

The executive committee discussed the £30.99 million proposals yesterday, which will see High Beeches in Harpenden and St Helen’s Primary C of E School in Wheathampstead enlarged to take on new pupils.

In Wheathampstead, the deficit of primary school places will increase to a shortfall of 19 by the 2014 intake before the expansion.

In Harpenden, the figures are more positive, but the town is affected by families with young children moving to the area shortly before applying for a primary school place.

This problem has, in the past, been solved by using temporary units, but the county council wants to enlarge High Beeches in order to provide a more permanent solution.

In a report to the county council, Pauline Davis, head of school planning, said: "There continues to be a real and pressing need to provide primary school places across Hertfordshire.

"Not providing the premises to allow additional places to be offered will mean that very young children may be forced to access places some considerable distance from their homes."

A consultation into the two projects was conducted with local residents, politicians, union representatives, and other education establishments.

More than half of the people asked supported the plan to expand High Beeches by 30 pupils, and an overwhelming 81 per cent agreed with the proposal to enlarge St Helen’s by 20.

High Beeches’ governing body is in favour of the proposal, but raised concerns regarding the condition of the existing building and of the need to improve some of the facilities.

Other concerns included the traffic and parking impact, as well as the disruption that would be caused during any building work that needed to be done.

Both the governing body and the Diocese of St Albans are supportive of the proposal to increase St Helen’s school.

The county council agreed to authorise the enlargement of the two schools at yesterday’s meeting.

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