Chantry Community Association - Objections to Proposed Schools' Move  Map 

Letter to Head of Planning and Building Control, East Herts District Council


Mr Kevin Steptoe
Head of Planning and Building Control
East Herts Council
Wallfields
Pegs Lane
Hertford
SG13 8EQ
Chantry Community Association
11 September 2008

Planning Application Numbers:
3/08/1117/OP, Relocation of schools to Whittington Way
3/08/1115/OP and 3/08/1116OP Housing on land at Hadham Road
3/08/1101OP, 3/08/1102OP, 3/08/1103OP Housing on vacated school sites

Dear Sir

The CHANTRY Community Association is a resident's group with around 800 paid households forming our annual memebrship. The proposed schools' relocation affects many aspects of our members' interests,especially as the plans would involve development for houses on a large open area of land reserved for a school site in the Chantry area. The key objections to this proposal are summarised below:

TRAFFIC

1. Siting the new school development at Whittington Way will concentrate traffic flows at peak times twice a day in just one site, and require a mass migration of vehicles to and from the south of the town. This will worsen the flows for the town in general as now the Herts and Essex, The Bishop's Stortford High School (TBSHS) and the possible Hadham Road school site are much better dispersed sites around the town. Each separate site would benefit from separately generated traffic flows, pedestrian, cycle access and bus routes.

2. The new school site at Whittington Way cannot be so easily accessed from the railway station nor main bus interchange station as existing sites.

3. If, in the next planning round for Bishop's Stortford, housing developments are built on the Areas of Special Restraint (ASRs) to the North West of Stortford, the siting of the relocated schools at Whittington Way would be the furthest place possible for these new dwellings and families on the ASRs. This will only exacerbate the traffic congestion mentioned in point 1. in the not-so-distant future, perhaps 2020-2025.

4. The new housing developments at the Goods Yard site, Hadham Road school site, the two demolished Secondary schools' site and the Beldams Lane playing fields (1500 + HOUSES) have not been factored into the Transportation study for this application. These developments will further worsen the town's traffic flows in the near future (2010-2015).

SPORTS AMENITY

1. The current site at Hadham Road offers the town use of playing fields which will be lost to the Bishop's Stortford Rugby Club when houses are built over it. Consideration should be given to what alternative sport fields will be provided within walking distance for the rugby club and other users.

CHOICE OF SCHOOLS

1. The proposals to increase the size of the same type of schools at Whittington way does nothing to increase the choice of the type of school on offer to applicants.

2. The relocation of the 2 schools will not necessarily improve the quality of teaching available. There is evidence that larger schools do not necessarily perform any better.

3. A new school could be founded on new different principles at Hadham Road site which would genuinely increase further the choice of education type available to Stortford citizens.

AIRCRAFT NOISE

1. CCA are concerned that the Whittington Way site is located too close to one of the main flight paths at the south of Stansted Airport's main runway.

2. With the proposed expansion of air traffic, and possibility of another runway at Stansted, the siting of a 3000-student campus in a noisier part of the town's environs makes little sense. It will be permanently and increasingly disturbed for most of the teaching day.

3. Over the life of the new school, aircraft noise and risk of aircraft crashing on the Whittington Way school site would increase, not decrease.

4. Have the recent proposed changes to the NATS review of noise preferential routes for South East of England been considered in locating the schools at Whittington Way?

GREEN BELT

1. The Whittington Way school site is being proposed on Green Belt which should be protected at all costs to contain urban sprawl.

2. No exceptional educational need has been proven to build on the Green Belt as the absolute only method to provide further school places for the town.

3. AN ALTERNATIVE SITE IS AVAILABLE to Herts County Council off Hadham Road.

4. Also, an alternative would be to build two further forms of entry at TBSHS on existing adjoining playing fields on the site, whilst increasing permission to use the playing fields at Jobber's Wood, or developing some recreational playing fields at Whittington Way.

The ALTERNATIVE SITE: Hadham Road

1. The Hadham Road site is large enough to provide a 6 FE school. The undeveloped site has an area of 8.3 ha. If the land occupied by the Fire Station and associated buildings were added, the site area would rise to 9.65 ha.

2. The site in Whittington Way which EHDC proposed removing from Green Belt protection is around 16 ha and deemed large enough to provide school facilities and playing fields for up to 16 FE in total (all figures come from the East Herts local plan second review documents).

3. Even if allowance is made for the space saved by sharing some facilities, a site which is 51% (at 8.3 ha) of the area of the proposed Whittington Way site should be more than sufficient to accommodate a school which would have only 37.5% (6 FE) of the joint relocated schools' capacity.

4. Additional playing fields and sports facilities can be provided through a partnership agreement with the Bishop's Stortford Rugby Club and Swifts football club located opposite.

RISKS TO PROJECT

1. The whole plan is very ambitious and beyond the scope, with all due respect, of the largely amateur Governing bodies of the schools involved. Although this may not be a planning consideration per se, there is a clear risk the "property-development"-led proposal will fail to deliver the specifications and timing vital to ensure continued education of the town's secondary school children affected at existing standards.

2. Guarantees and legal court cases are of small compensation when measured against a failure to provide education.

3. The building of a new school at Hadham Road would not incur these same risks of delivery and timing.

For these reasons we ask you note our objections to the schools' move to Green Belt land, to the building of an additional 775 houses in the town and the use of council land at Hadham Road for housing instead of additional school provision, and urge you to recommend a refusal of outline planning permissions.

Yours faithfully,

Philip ROWLEY
On behalf of the Chantry Community Association.