Proposed Schools' Relocation - Information  Map 

16 Feb 13 - Haymeads Public Inquiry Updated!

Announcement - Haymeads Public Inquiry

The Public Inquiry into the application by Haymeads Residents' Association to register Herts & Essex School playing field as a new town/village green, which began in January, will re-convene on Wednesday 24 April 2013 for 3 days at the Mitre Suite, Bishop's Stortford Football Club, Woodside Park, Dunmow Rd, Bishop's Stortford, CM23 5RG.


18 Jan 13 - BSCF Comment on School Governors' Press Statement

The Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation welcomes this statement by the Boys' High School which shows a willingness to engage with parents, other local schools and the wider community at an early stage in the creation of a new development strategy.

We argued at the public inquiry into the previous relocation plans that the Hadham Road site next to the fire station would be suitable for a 6 FE school and indeed an outline scheme was included in the evidence presented. So we can well understand that the school should be considering this as one of the options.

We should, however, sound a note of caution about what happens to their present site if they were to move. In his report on the plans of the Boys and Girls Schools to relocate and expand to 6 FE each, the Inspector said that he was not persuaded that this expansion would be enough to meet the long term demand for secondary school places in Bishop's Stortford. He therefore said that even if he had recommended the relocation of the two schools, he would still have concluded that the Hadham Road site needed to be retained to meet possible future educational demand. This concern would be just the same if the Boys School were to move to Hadham Road, but its existing site were then to be released from the educational estate for housing.

We are expecting planning applications shortly for up to 3000 homes to the north of Bishop's Stortford. This will increase demand on all our hard pressed public services, not least for secondary school places, and we do not yet know what, if any, provision for them the developers will include in their plans. We hope that the County Council, which still has the responsibility to plan for future demand, will involve the whole community in agreeing on the best way to meet it, before any of the land which was acquired by taxpayers for educational use is sold off for housing.


16 Jan 13 - Press Statement from the Governors of the Bishop's Stortford High School  Top 

We have been asked to issue a statement resulting from the recent planning refusal at Whittington Way.

County recognises the support both the Bishop’s Stortford High School and the Hertfordshire and Essex High School have given County over the last 10 years to help solve the town’s long term secondary educational need for additional places.

TBSHS Governors are liaising closely with the County Council to assess the suitability, practicality and financial viability of staying at our current site or independently moving to another site.

Governors and County recognise the need to do something to improve the students and staff workplace as soon as possible.

One of the options Governors are seriously considering, is the Hadham Road site adjoining the fire station. The Secretary of State report recognised it would be suitable for a single school, and whilst it is zoned residential, it has been earmarked for possible educational use.

With the County Council, we anticipate being in a position to have a better idea of a way forward after the Easter recess.


12 Sep 12 - Schools Public Inquiry verdict victory  Top 

Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, rejects schools relocation appeals
The BSCF would like to thank everyone who supported this vital campaign.

The Civic Federation is thrilled that the Secretary of State has refused permission for the Herts and Essex and Boy's High Schools to relocate. We welcome that Mr Pickles has recognised the issues surrounding sustainable development, now embedded within the planning framework and that "localism" is now a key determinant in any such decisions. It is testament to the support of East Herts District Council, to many people within the BSCF and to the concerted campaign of other groups and individuals across the town.

The BSCF will need to consider what next steps need to be taken; there are two questions we feel need to be answered. Why did this process have to reach the offices of the Secretary of State in the first place when the proper planning process had refused the relocation? And why did Herts County Council bankroll the appeal process to the sum, we believe, of almost £1,000,000 at a time of dire cutbacks and straitened times for us all, when to do so made no sense?

But at this moment, it is a time to celebrate a victory for common sense, to celebrate the effective working of local democracy, to thank all concerned, and to concentrate on the other important campaigns including the ASRs, the relocation of the South Street surgery, the design of the new Aldi store, the need for a Master Plan for Bishop's Stortford... the list is long!

Links:   Secretary of State's Decision    Inspector's Report



29 Apr 12 - Schools Public Inquiry verdict delayed until July  Top 

This story was published in the online edition of the Herts and Essex Observer on 20 April 2012

The long-awaited verdict on Bishop’s Stortford’s super-school plan has been delayed until as late as July 26.

Today (Friday, April 20) opponents of the scheme for a joint campus for the Herts & Essex and Bishop’s Stortford high schools on Green Belt land at Thorley learned that the man with the final say – Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles – wants further information.

The proposals would see the two secondaries sell off their sites in Warwick Road, Beldams Lane and London Road for housing and relocate to a site off Whittington Way. The move would enable local education authority Herts County Council (HCC) to sell its Hadham Road reserve school site for development.

Mr Pickles now wants to know how supporters and opponents of the super-school plan think the National Planning Policy Framework, which came into force on March 27, affects the proposals.

The Government heralded the new legislation as a “key part of our reforms to make the planning system less complex and more accessible, to protect the environment and to promote sustainable growth”, but critics fear it will allow builders to carve up the countryside.

It reduced more than 1,000 pages of planning guidance to around 50.

After a public inquiry on the super-school plans last September, inspector David Wildsmith formally submitted his findings to Mr Pickles in February and a verdict was expected next Tuesday (April 24).

However, a letter from the Department of Communities and Local Government now says: “The Secretary of State considers that he will not be in a position to reach a decision on the above appeals by April 24, as previously notified, because of the need to allow parties time to deal with the [National Planning Policy Framework] matter.

"The Secretary of State hereby gives notice that he has varied the timetable for his decision previously set and will now issue his decision on or before July 26."

At the public inquiry, HCC, together with developer Countryside Properties and the governors of both schools, tried to convince Mr Wildsmith to recommend that planning authority East Herts District Council’s refusal of planning permission should be overturned.

The area’s four other state secondaries – Birchwood High School, Hockerill Anglo European College and St Mary's Catholic School in Stortford plus Leventhorpe in Sawbridgeworth – the town’s civic federation and Thorley Parish Council united with EHDC to argue against the development. Now all these parties have until May 4 to add to their cases.

Those comments will then be circulated to both sides before the final deadline, five days later. Then Mr Pickles will make his decision, taking the new submissions into account.


3 Dec 11 - Schools Public Inquiry Ends  Top 

The Public Inquiry into the superschool proposals ended on 14 October 2011. A decision is expected on or before 24 April 2012.

The BSCF would like to thank all those who donated money to the Stop Schools Fund.


29 Sep 11 - Taxpayers could foot £7m bill for superschool  Top 

This story was published in the Herts and Essex Observer on 29 September 2011

Taxpayers could be hit with a massive bill if plans to relocate two Bishop's Stortford secondary schools get the Government stamp of approval, it has emerged.

Stortford super schoolDespite earlier claims that moving the Bishop's Stortford and Herts & Essex highs would leave Herts County Council (HCC) with a £1.75m surplus, revised figures show the education authority would in fact suffer a £7m deficit if the scheme went ahead.

As the inquiry into the schools' appeal against East Herts District Council's refusal of planning permission for the move continued this week, Stortford’s civic federation, which has opposed the proposal from the outset, slammed the revelations as "damning".

With HCC's backing, the schools want to move to a shared Green Belt site off Whittington Way, Thorley, where they would expand to six forms of entry (180 pupils) by 2014 and eventually eight (240).

To cover costs, their London Road and Warwick Road sites would be sold for housing, along with Herts & Essex's playing fields off Beldams Lane and HCC land off Hadham Road originally reserved for a new school.

When the planning application was submitted last year, it was claimed HCC would have a £5.8m surplus by 2014 and would still be £1.1m in the black by the end of the final phase. This figure was revised to £1.75m for the appeal.

But on Tuesday, HCC and its supporters released new data showing there would be a deficit after the first phase of development – and with additional building costs, the final balance would stand at £7.044m. It is believed the council miscalculated the amount of money it would make from sale of the school sites for housing.

Civic federation chairman Richard Hannah said: "This is very damning, especially since HCC totally dismissed all the other options as being too expensive without even doing a professional cost-benefit analysis to prove this scheme is the best way forward."


19 Sep 11 - Details of appeal sites referred to in the Public Inquiry Proofs of Evidence  Top 

A list of the Appeal Sites and a description of each one:

Appeal A (Ref: 2149483) relates to a proposal for a comprehensive development comprising the change of use of land from agricultural to educational use (Class D1) and the erection of buildings with a combined total external floorspace of 26,000sqm, plus related site works consisting of: the construction of an internal road; car parking areas; a temporary construction access onto Obrey Way; a floodlit mutli-use games area and all weather pitch; formation of playing fields and associated drainage works. Associated infrastructure works to Whittington Way to include: construction of 2 new roundabouts; provision of cycleway and footway links; and enhanced bus stop facilities. This appeal relates to land at Whittington Way, Bishop's Stortford.

Appeal B (Ref: 2149492) is for the variation of condition 2 of planning permission 3/97/0520/FP, to allow the facility to be used by both Bishop's Stortford High School and Herts and Essex High School, and also by local organisations. This relates to land at Jobbers Wood, Great Hadham Road, Bishop’s Stortford.

Appeal C (Ref: 2149488) relates to a proposed residential development (up to 165 dwellings) and alterations to existing Patmore Close access plus related internal roads, landscaping and open space areas on land to the south of Hadham Road, Bishop’s Stortford.

Appeal D (Ref: 2149408) is for the demolition of existing buildings and the erection of up to 220 residential properties and associated infrastructure at The Bishop's Stortford High School, London Road, Bishop's Stortford.

Appeal E (Ref: 2149401) is for the retention and refurbishment of the buildings fronting Warwick Road, demolition of existing buildings and the erection of up to 125 residential properties and associated infrastructure at The Hertfordshire & Essex High School, Warwick Road, Bishop's Stortford.

Appeal F (Ref: 2149392) is for the demolition of existing buildings and the erection of up to 180 residential properties and associated infrastructure at Beldams Lane Sports Pitches, Beldams Lane, Bishop' Stortford



8 Sep 11 - Support for schools' move 'completely lost'  Top 

This story, by Sinead Holland, was published in the Herts and Essex Observer on 8 September 2011

A Herts county councillor at the heart of the Stortford super-school row has revealed her true feelings about the proposal.

Jane Pitman, the member for Braughing and the council's chairman, conceded in emails obtained by the Observer under the Freedom of Information Act that the battle for public support in the town has been "completely lost".

Herts County Council, the local education authority, backs plans to relocate the Herts & Essex and Bishop's Stortford High schools on Green Belt land off Whittington Way at Thorley. The schools would sell their sites in Warwick Road, Beldams land and London Road for housing, and HCC would do the same with its reserve school site off Hadham Road.

The scheme will be the subject of a 16-day public inquiry starting on September 20. Herts has stumped up £230,000 to finance the legal arguments.

The hearing will see HCC line up with the governors of both schools and developer Countryside Properties to fight East Herts District Council - which refused planning permission - Thorley Parish Council, Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation and the heads of Stortford's three other state secondaries as well as Leventhorpe in Sawbridgeworth, who oppose the bid.

In her March email, sent when she was the executive member for children's services, Cllr Pitman admitted: "We all at county accept that the argument in Bishop's Stortford for the merits of two new schools has been completely lost. In part I blame the schools for not engaging more effectively with local people."

Yesterday (Wednesday, 7 September), she said: "I confirm that in my view the merits of the move were not adequately communicated by the two schools to their local community. I believed the arguments were lost at the time of my emails, but not the positive merits of the two schools' move to the new site."

Civic Federation chairman, Richard Hannah, said: "If the merits of the schools' move were so positive, then it would have been in the schools' interest to engage with the local communities to put forward their case with confidence, so that it would be embraced by parents and the local communities which would be affected. Instead, they decided with arrogance to adopt a dictatorial approach.

It's a pity Cllr Pitman didn't have the courage at the time to oppose the move and look at other less costly solutions before wasting so much of taxpayers' money and puttting residents through a very stressful time over a three-year period.


5 Sep 11 - Public Inquiry Proofs of Evidence Published  Top 

These Proofs of Evidence will be used at the pubic inquiry to be held from Tuesday, September 20 2011. The inquiry is due to last 16 days.

For details of each of the sites mentioned below, see here.

Summary Proof of Evidence Concerning All the Appeal Sites
Author: John Rhodes FCILT FRSA
BSCF Summary

Proof of Evidence about sites A, C, D, E and F
Author: Michael Hurford, President of the BSCF
Michael Hurford

Proof of Evidence on behalf of Chantry Community Association about site C - Hadham Road
Author: Rob Francis
Chantry Community Association

Proof of Evidence on behalf of the Parsonage and Hockerill Residents’ Associations particularly about site E
Author: Deborah Munro
Parsonage and Hockerill

Summary Proof of Evidence on behalf of Warwick Road Maintenance Association about Site E
Author: Mrs M C Rhodes
Warkwick Road

Haymeads Residents’ Association Summary Proof of Evidence Concerning Appeal Site F
Author: Jill Wade
Haymeads

Old Thorley and Twyford Residents’ Association (OTTRA) and Thorley Park Residents’ Association Proof of Evidence relating to sites A and D
Author: Carol Hayward-Peel
OTTRA and Thorley Manor

Summary Proof of Evidence Concerning Appeal Site C submitted by Residents of Grove Park and 171 Hadham Road
Author: Jennifer Otter
Grove Park


10 Jul 11 - Inspector chooses Stortford for Schools Inquiry  Top 

In a victory for localism and local democracy, the Inspector, David Wildsmith, has decided to hold the Inquiry in Bishop's Stortford.

For details, see paragraphs 46-49 in the Inspector's Notes from the Pre-Inqury meeting that was held on 1 July, 2011.


7 Jul 11 - 'Super-school hearing must be in town' - campaigners

This story, by Sinead Holland, was published in the Herts and Essex Observer on 7 July 2011

Opponents of the Bishop's Stortford super-school scheme have drawn a line in the sand for the planning inquiry inspector.

At a prelimary meeting at a packed Charis Centre last Friday, they told [the Inspector,] David Wildsmith that September's full hearing into proposed Green Belt expansion by the Herts & Essex and Bishop's Stortford high schools must take place in the town.

Around 80 people thronged the community church hall in Water Lane to make it clear that the suggetion by the schools, local education authority Herts County Council, and developer Countryside Properties that their appeal against East Herts District Council's refusal of planning permission should be heard at County Hall in Hertford was simply not acceptable.

John Rhodes, vice-chairman of Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation, which represents residents' associations in the town, summed up: "To hear it in a location which effectively debars local residents would lack democratic legitmacy."

That view was echoed by Cllr Sylvia McDonald for Thorley Parish Coucil - which is at the heart of the argumant over development of a joint campus for the two high schools off Whittington Way - and EHDC's legal team.

Barrister Saira Kabir Sheikh, who is presenting the authority's case on why its refusal of planning permissin for six applications key to the schools' move must be upheld, told Mr Wildsmith that the Waytemore Room in the council's former Causeway offices was a suitable venue for the inquiry.

She said that the Charis Centre had been ruled out for the duration of the 16-day inquiry, apart from the first two sessions, and no other adequate venue had been identified, although she agreed to review the suitability of the Barnabas Centre at Thorley and BAA's Endeavour House at Stansted Airport, where the G1 runway inquiry took place.

However, Peter Harrison - the Queen's Counsel leading the appellants' argument on why Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles should overturn EHDC's decision and allow hundreds of homes to be built on the high schools' Warwick Road and London Road premises, Herts & Essex's sports fields off Beldams Lane and Herts County Council's reserve schools site off Hadham Road  Map  - was adamant. He said of the Waytemore Room proposal: "It's simply impracticable."



4 Jul 11 - Petition created on Herts County Council's Website   Top 

This petition is now CLOSED

To see the petition and all the signatories, see: Stop the Schools' Move to Whittington Way

We received a total of 436 signatures and this result allows the BSCF to speak at the Herts County Council meeting on Tuesday 19 July. This will be an excellent opportunity for the BSCF to present its case on the schools' move to an audience of councillors.


28 May 11 - Inspector to hold pre-inquiry meeting to determine venue  Top 

The inspector hearing the appeals will be conducting a pre-inquiry meeting in the Charis Centre on Friday, 1 July starting at 10.00 am. One matter to be decided at this meeting is whether the public inquiry should be held in Hertford or Bishop's Stortford.
If you can, please attend this meeting to demonstrate to the inspector that there is huge local interest in this matter. This is the Inspector's Agenda.


14 May 11 - BSCF launches Stop Schools Move Fund  Top 

A Public Inquiry is to be held in September 2011 to finally decide whether or not the schools move to Whittington Way can go ahead.
We need the support of the public to engage legal counsel to present the case against this move.
If you would like to help stop the schools move, PLEASE DONATE to the Stop Schools Move Fund.

Click the button below for full details:

25 Mar 11 - Anger at appeal to Government over Stortford super-school rejection  Top 

This story, by Sinead Holland, was published in the online edition of the Herts and Essex Observer on 23 March 2011

The fight to build a super-school on Bishop's Stortford's Green Belt is to be decided at a public inquiry after an appeal was lodged with the Government.

Stortford super-school planThe decision to try to force through the relocation of the Herts and Essex and Bishop's Stortford high schools from their sites in Warwick Road, London Road and Beldams Lane to a shared campus off Whittington Way, Thorley, has infuriated the town's civic federation.

The organisation has led the battle against the project, which also includes hundreds of new homes. Chairman Richard Hannah said: "We're appalled that the schools and Herts County Council (HCC) have once again arrogantly ignored the overwhelming rejection of the schools move.

"The civic federation and local communities of our town deplore the waste of taxpayers' money on this unnecessary public inquiry at a time of financial austerity for all publicly-funded bodies.

"The schools and HCC have consistently failed to demonstrate compelling evidence for destroying our Green Belt land."

East Herts district councillors rejected all six applications that made up the scheme at a special meeting attended by at least 250 residents at Stortford's Charis Centre last October.

Thorley Parish Council members are also furious that the plan is now back on the timetable. Cllr Janet Rolph said it beggared belief that the backers were ignoring aircraft noise data from a BAA monitor near the site and pressing ahead with the plan to build on land blighted by aircraft noise.

Liberal Democrat town and East Herts district councillor Mike Wood, who has been a long-time critic of the plans, had harsh words for the county council, which is to sell off its Patmore Close reserve school site for housing as part of the scheme.

He said: "On what basis is the county council backing this? I hope not with cash, because the people of Bishop's Stortford have clearly said they do not want a super-school in the Green Belt."

The plan has also divided Stortford's secondary school heads.

Birchwood high principal Dr Chris Ingate said: "I would have been more in favour if both schools had amended their admission rules to prioritise local families.

"The problem with Bishop's Stortford is that all the schools are successful and therefore families from a long way out apply for places, putting pressure on local applications.

"One could argue that the fact that there is no longer a subsidy on school transport will decrease applications from further afield, but this in turn will weaken the case for relocation."

But on behalf of both the Herts and Essex and Bishop's Stortford highs, Rodney Stock – chairman of governors at the latter – argued: "The decision to lodge a planning appeal was not taken lightly, but the appeal proposal is considered to represent the only deliverable solution to meet the existing and emerging need for additional secondary school places in the town.

"In coming to its decision to refuse our planning application, the district council's development control committee recognised that the planning and educational considerations were very finely balanced.

"We will ask the independent planning inspector to give greater weight to the educational need and the opportunity to provide two outstanding schools with premises fit for the 21st century."

The appeal is expected to be heard in the late summer or early autumn. The inspector will then prepare a recommendation for Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles for a final decision at the end of the year.



22 Mar 11 - Open letter in response to petition in favour of school plans  Top 

Someone named "Claire" has been attempting to drum up support via email for the proposed super-school plans. Here is an open letter from a parent which takes issue with Claire's email and sums up the majority view very well.


21 Mar 11 - Appeal launched over Stortford super-school plan  Top 

The two schools, together with Herts County Council, have appealed to the government for a final decision on the proposed relocation plans. This is despite the overwheming majority of people, backed by East Herts District Council, having made it clear on several occasions that these proposals are not wanted and are not in the best interests of the residents of Bishop's Stortford. See this story from the Herts and Essex Observer: Appeal expected over Stortford super-school plan.

Here is the Press Statement issued by the schools.


18 Jan 11 - Comments on imminent appeal against Development Control Committee's rejection of School Plans  Top 

Despite overwhelming opposition from all quarters, it appears that there is likely to be an appeal against the unanimous decision of EHDC's Development Control Committee in September 2010 to reject the proposed schools relocation plans. The BSCF's latest letter to the Herts and Essex Observer expresses its concerns over this news.


21 Jan 11 - School Plans - New Appeal Likely  Top 

An appeal to push through a super-school for Bishop's Stortford – despite refusal of plans last year – is pending. See this story from the Herts and Essex Observer: Appeal expected over Stortford super-school plan.


10 Oct 10 - School Plans - The Right Decision  Top 

BSCF press statement on the decision of the Development Control Committee meeting held on 30 September 2010.
Thank you to all who supported this important campaign.

We are delighted that East Herts District Council (EHDC) has listened to the overwhelming expression of local opinion as well as the weight of evidence presented by national organisations like the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

We would also like to thank Bishop's Stortford's community representatives for the significant and tireless part they played in rejecting these relocation plans. The result shows that local people can make their voices heard if they care enough about the future of our town.

In the last seven years Herts County Council (HCC) has spent over £540,000 of our money promoting plans to relocate these two schools to Green Belt land, money which need not have been wasted on the project if they had engaged in a genuine dialogue with the local community rather than thinking that they knew best. This money would have been better spent on maintaining the fabric of the two schools.

On each occasion that the plans have been exposed to public scrutiny, they have been rejected by:

We trust that the education providers and Boards of Governors will not try the patience of the local community still further, by appealing against EHDC's refusal to grant planning permission. Their decision was based on the weight of the arguments against the plans as well as the overwhelming opposition of the people of the town.

If they were to spend our money appealing against a properly taken decision, which EHDC would then have to spend more of our money defending, it would be an affront to local democracy as well as a further waste of tax payers' money in this time of government cuts.

Even though they were never included in the Local Plan, the existence of these proposals to sacrifice the Green Belt, transfer school places to a less accessible location, and build hundreds of homes on unsuitable sites has blighted large parts of the town with the uncertainty about what might happen.

We are therefore calling on the education providers to bring this uncertainty to an end, by cancelling any further public expenditure on this scheme and undertaking not to appeal or support any appeal against EHDC's decision.

Our local people care strongly about the future education of our children, which is why they turned out in such numbers at the meeting to oppose this misconceived scheme. We have offered in the past to engage in a dialogue with education providers, to work on plans for meeting the need for school places, that will meet the needs of local people and which we can all support.


7 Oct 10 - Will Stortford schools appeal planning decision - or have they learned their lesson?  Top 

This story, by James Burton, appeared in the online and print editions of the Herts and Essex Observer on 7 October 2010

Plans for a super-school on Bishop's Stortford's Green Belt have failed their examination – but Government spending cuts could determine whether they return for a resit.

At least 250 residents crowded into Stortford's Charis Centre last Thursday night (September 30), when East Herts District Council debated the controversial proposed relocation of the Bishop's Stort-ford and Herts and Essex high schools to unspoilt land on the edge of the town.

At the end of the three-hour battle, during which opponents and supporters pleaded their case to East Herts' development control committee, councillors accepted their officers' advice and unanimously rejected all six applications which made up the scheme.

However, Bishop's Stortford High School chairman of governors Rodney Stock – who addressed the council to endorse the plans – this week refused to rule out a planning appeal.

Under the plans, the two secondaries' London Road and Warwick Road sites would have been sold to make way for almost 700 new homes. A new base would have been built for both on a site off Whittington Way – and Herts and Essex's Beldams Lane playing fields, which are regularly used by the public, would also have been lost to housing. Residential redevelopment would also have been the fate of Herts County Council land in Patmore Close, reserved for a new school decades ago.

Mr Stock said: "[The move] is seen as preferable to a 'sticking plaster' solution involving sending Bishop's Stortford children out of town and leaving the two outstanding schools willing but unable to help in their admittedly inadequate buildings and facilities.

"We await the outcome of the Government's comprehensive spending review [due on October 20] before reviewing the matter further on advice. We do not, however, expect the Government's spending review to enable Herts County Council to make available funds to provide an alternative solution to the problem."

At the meeting, supporters fought to persuade councillors that the educational benefits of the move outweighed the disadvantages of building on the Green Belt. Under district council policy, this is not allowed unless "special circumstances" can be proven.

John Harris, the county council's director for children and schools, told members there were no alternatives which met the county council's criteria of offering acceptable place numbers, educational standards, costs and transitional arrangements.

To a mixed chorus of cheers and jeers, he said: "None of the options put forward by the local community or those suggested in the officers' report meet educational planning requirements.

"That being the case, the county council considers that there are very special circumstances outweighing the rural character of the Green Belt and, on balance, the application should be approved."

But opponents hit back, saying the Whittington Way site was unsuitable because it was under a Stansted Airport take-off path and classes would be disrupted by aircraft noise.

They also raised concerns over road safety, fearing fewer pupils would walk, cycle or take public transport to the new, more remote site. As a result, they argued, London Road – which is already a congestion hotspot during the school run – would be choked.

Their views were echoed by Cllr Allen Burlton, who described the plans as "a nightmare waiting to happen" during discussion with his committee colleagues.

Cllr Keith Barnes added: "If we allow this, we could end up with a Bishop's Stortford South adjoining an equally unwanted Harlow North. We should not be opening the floodgates for further development."

The head teachers at Bishop's Stortford and Herts and Essex High did not wish to add to Mr Stock's comments this week.


30 Sep 10 - School Plans Rejected by Development Control Committee  Top 

SCHOOL PLANS REJECTED! EHDC's Development Control Committee unanimously rejected all six of the planning applications relating to the proposed schools move to Whittington Way. Voting by the 16 members of the committee took place after a lively and sometimes noisy debate in a packed Charis Centre.


July / August 2010 - BSCF Flyer  Top 

The Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation has delivered a four-page flyer to several thousand Bishop's Stortford residents. The flyer, entitled entitled Our Green Belt under threat - oppose the schools' move, outlines the many arguments against the proposed new super school on the Whittington Way site to the south of the town.

Click the flyer's image to the left to read the complete flyer.

24 Aug 10 - Environmental Noise Assessment Report  Top 

This Environmental Noise Assessment Report written by Martin Peachey is a detailed assessment of how aeroplane noise will negatively affect the proposed new super school at the Whittington Way site.

26 Aug 10 - Town Council decides against super-school proposals

In a special public meeting at the Rhodes Centre on 24 August, Bishop's Stortford town council decided to oppose plans for a super-school at Whittington Way. The town councillors heard arguments for and against the proposals and were persuaded by the evident public opposition to these plans expressed by members of the local community and representatives of several residents' associations.
This story, Big blow for super-school, was published in the online and print editions of the Herts and Essex Observer on 26 August 2010.

20 Aug 10 - CPRE Objection Letter  Top 

The Campaign to Protect Rural England has written this objection letter in which they argue against the proposals to build a new super school on the Whittington Way site.

19 Aug 10 - Warwick Road - Objection Letter  Top 

The Warwick Road Maintenance Association has written this objection letter in which they oppose the plans to redevelop the Herts and Essex School.

12 Aug 10 - Green for stop - 'Town green' bid to halt Stortford super-school plan

Super-school site opponents bid to halt plan by securing playing field as public space.
This story, Green for stop, was published in the online and print editions of the Herts and Essex Observer on 12 August 2010.

13 Jul 10 - Letter from Mark Prisk MP to Chair of Governors, Boys' High School  Top 

This letter from Mark Prisk MP to the Chair of Governors of the Boys' High School expresses our MP's reservations about the proposed schools' move to Whittington Way.

14 Jul 10 - Schools Planning Applications  Top 

The new planning applications may be found on EHDC's website.

27 Jun 10 - Sample Letter for objecting to proposed schools' move  Top 

See a sample objection letter for a selection of arguments against the newly-submitted super-school plans.

14 Jun 10 - Stortford super-school battle resumes as new plans lodged  Top 

As anticipated two weeks ago, Bishop's Stortford and the Herts and Essex High Schools have submitted revised plans for a super-school at the Whittington Way site.
This story, Stortford super-school battle resumes as new plans lodged, was published in the online edition of the Herts and Essex Observer on 14 June 2010.
See this extract from the planning officers' report of 2008 giving reasons why they recommended planning permission be refused.

3 Jun 10 - Super-school plan due to be resubmitted  Top 

After strong public opposition to the super-school plan, the governors of the Bishop's Stortford and the Herts and Essex High Schools withdrew their plans in December 2008. But now, despite strong opposition from the public, we have learnt that the schools intend to resubmit revised plans soon. The BSCF remains strongly opposed to any new super-school development at Whittington Way.
This story, Stortford super-school bid set for comeback as Causeway plans due to be unveiled was published in the Herts and Essex Observer of 3 June 2010.

4 Mar 10 - Report criticises plan for Stortford's super-school  Top 

The Herts and Essex Observer, using the Freedom of Information Act, has obtained a design review which was commissioned by East Herts District Council and compiled by Inspire East. The conclusion of Inspire East was that they were not yet convinced by the arguments for the super-school plan.
See this story in the Herts and Essex Observer of 4 March 2010.

25 Feb 10 - Strong reaction to Tooze's comments  Top 

Reactions to the article New head backs super school published in the Herts and Essex Observer on 18 February 2010 have been strong and plentiful. A number of letters (all firmly against the new super school) have been printed in the same newspaper. The BSCF remains solidly opposed to any super school at Whittington Way. See also this leader in the Herts and Essex Observer of 25 February 2010.

18 Feb 10 - New Herts & Essex school head, Cathy Tooze, sparks controversy  Top 

The new head of the Herts & Essex High School, Cathy Tooze, has reingnited the schools debate. See this article in the Herts and Essex Observer of 18 February 2010 in which she voices her support of the new super school at Whittington Way.

9 Dec 09 - Local Government Ombudsman replies to BSCF  Top 

The Local Government Ombudsman has sent a reply to the BSCF's letter of 7 Dec 2009 and has given East Herts District Council until 8 February 2010 to properly address the BSCF's complaint against them.

7 Dec 09 - BSCF appeals to Local Government Ombudsman over EHDC's meetings with developers

Following East Herts District Council's refusal to investigate the BSCF's complaint against them, the BSCF has written to the Local Goverment Ombudsman. See this letter from the BSCF to the Local Government Ombudsman and this exchange of letters between the BSCF and EHDC.

19 Nov 09 - Bishop's Stortford super-school plan back on?  Top 

An East Herts District Council boss stands accused of colluding with a developer to push through controversial plans for a Bishop's Stortford super-school – in defiance of public opposition. The BSCF has made a formal complaint.
This report by Sinead Holland appeared in the Herts and Essex Observer - Super-school plan back on?
Also, see this letter from the vice chairman of the BSCF, John Rhodes, published in the Herts and Essex Observer and a reply from the Legal Manager, East Herts District Council.

11 Dec 08 - BSCF hails withdrawal of plan as a "victory for the people"  Top 

The withdrawal of plans for a combined schools site at Whittington Way has been welcomed by the BSCF. See this letter from the chairman of the BSCF, Richard Hannah, published in the Herts and Essex Observer.

4 Dec 08 - School governors withdraw single-site plan  Top 

The announcement of a rethink by schools governors comes in the wake of planning officials recommending that East Herts district councillors reject the controversial project by Bishop's Stortford High and Herts & Essex High to expand and move to a shared site off Whittington Way. See this story in the Herts and Essex Observer.

30 Oct 08 - Essex County Council withdraws its objections to schools move plans  Top 

In a surprise move, Essex County Council announced that it had withdrawn its support for the BSCF's objections to the proposed schools' move. See this story in the Herts and Essex Observer.
See the BSCF's reaction to Essex County Council's announcement in a letter to the Herts and Essex Observer.

Writing an Objection Letter - some points to consider  Top 

Now that the October 16 meeting has been POSTPONED, we understand that East Herts District Council will continue to accept letters of objection until just before the rescheduled public meeting. The date of this meeting has yet to be announced.
If you have not done so already, please write to Herts District Council with your views on this matter. You can write one letter per person rather than one letter per household.

For a basic guide to writing an objection letter, see Objection Letter - some points to consider.

For a more detailed guide to writing an objection letter, see Detailed Objection Letter.


Some reference material outlining objections to the proposed schools' relocation

Supporting Planning Statement produced by Vincent and Gorbing, urban planners.
Detailed Briefing Note.
Letter giving summary of objections.
Head teacher's school move fears

Other letters on this topic:
Letter (11 Sep 08) from Chantry Residents' Association to Letter to Head of Planning and Building Control
Letter (21 Sep 08) from Parsonage Residents' Association to Head of Development Control
Letter (18 Sep 08) from Haymeads Residents' Association to Head of Development Control
Letter (16 Sep 08) from OTTRA to Head of Planning and Building Control
Letter (15 Sep 08) from Mr B Adams (OTTRA) to Director of Neighbourhood Services (Development Control)
Letter (18 Aug 08) from Warwick Road Maintenance Association to East Herts Development Control
Formal Objection Letter (18 Aug 08) from BSCF to Head of Development Control
Letter of 9 Apr 08 to Herts & Essex Observer
Letter of 7 Aug 07 to Herts County Council
Letter of 28 Jun 07 to Herts & Essex Observer

The future of schools is vitally important for Bishop's Stortford. It is crucial that you make your views known before it's too late.


Open meeting to discuss schools situation  Top 

COME to an OPEN MEETING
for
AN OPPORTUNITY TO ASK QUESTIONS/LEARN THE FACTS ABOUT HOW THE PROPOSED RELOCATION OF THE HERTS & ESSEX GIRLS' & THE BOYS' HIGH SCHOOLS COULD AFFECT SECONDARY SCHOOL PLACES IN THE AREA.

These two schools have jointly submitted plans to sell their town premises and playing fields for housing, and to purchase with the proceeds of sale 50 acres of green belt land in Thorley, which will then be developed as a large campus with shared facilities for 3000+ pupils attending the two juxtaposed rebuilt schools.

These applications will be determined on a date in early December.

Tuesday 28th October 2008, from 7.30 pm at Thorley Community Centre (next to the Harvest Moon, Friedberg Avenue)

Local volunteer speakers from the field of education will be pleased to form a panel and discuss in open forum with parents and teachers the implications of these proposals.

The two-fold objective of this meeting is:

Chaired by Richard Hannah, chairman of the BSCF (Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation)
Hosted by TMRA (Thorley Manor Residents' Association)
Organised by OTTRA (Old Thorley & Twyford Park Residents' Association)


Town Planning Committee rejects all six planning applications  Top 

At the Town Planning meeting held on September 10 to discuss the new schools proposals, the Planning Committee unanimously rejected all six applications  Link .

This decision requires ratification by the East Herts Development Control Committee when it meets in October of this year.

BSCF outlines its formal objections  Top 

The BSCF has published its Formal Objections to the proposed schools move. The objection letter includes an appendix outlining the Inspector's Report on this issue, as published in the Local Plan, Second Review, 2007.

Planning applications lodged for new secondary school at Whittington Way  Top 

Six outline planning applications have been received by East Herts District Council  Link  in relation to the proposed schools' move and the Whittington Way site in Bishop's Stortford  Map . For specific details of each planning application, see this  Link  on the East Herts Council's website.

The six applications also include residential development on the current sites and on the reserve secondary school site on Hadham Road — the site allocated for homes in the Local Plan if sufficient secondary school space is provided elsewhere in the town.

You can see copies of the applications at Bishop's Stortford Town Council in Windhill, the library at The Causeway and in East Herts Council's Hertford offices.

If you wish to comment on the applications, send your letter by September 19, quoting the reference numbers of the application, to Development Control, East Herts Council, Wallfields, Pegs Lane, Hertford SG13 8EQ.

The applications will be considered at a special meeting of the Development Control committee on Thursday October 16 at the Charis Centre, Water Lane, Bishop's Stortford at 6pm. It's a public meeting which anyone can attend.

Members of the public will be allowed to speak at the meeting provided they have already commented in writing and have registered with the council by 5pm on October 9.


A report from the Bishop's Stortford Carnival held on 21 June 2008  Top 

BSCF Stall

On 21st June 2008, members of Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation and two Thorley Residents Associations joined the carnival fun on Sworder's Field and set up a colourful stall with green balloons and badges to attract the attention of towns people enjoying the day. The BSCF exists to look after the interests of town and wherever possible save it from the worst of the planners' follies. The current campaign is in opposition to the proposals put forward by the school governing bodies of The Bishop's Stortford High School (for boys) and The Herts & Essex High School (for girls) to relocate to green belt farmland in Thorley and sell off their vacated land for housing to Countryside Properties developers in order to fund the rebuilding.

Hundreds of people visited the stall, where maps were on display and leaflets and objection letters were offered to supporters. People had the opportunity to sign two petitions: one against the proposed new school at Whittington Way and associated housing plans; the other requesting the county council to provide a school on the reserved Hadham Road site.

BSCF Stall

Thorley campaigners reported as follows. We collected signatures from about 700 people. There seemed to be three groups: those who knew what was going on and at one point were queueing up to sign; those who were very alarmed and anxious to know more about whom they could write to and what could they do; and those (mainly parents of young families, many of whom had failed to get children into schools of their choice) who knew only what they read in newspapers, had mixed feelings and couldn't be sure about what to do for the best for their children.

Among views often heard were that another community school needed to be built and that The Bishop's Stortford High School was selected as first choice not because parents felt strongly about single sex schools but because it was a criterion to use to try to get children into the best local school. All the campaigners found themselves talking nonstop to people wanting to know more or give their own views, and it was clear that only a very small percentage of people, less than 5%, were not interested in signing, often because they did not live in the area.

One campaigner, Sarah-Jane Pyne, said she was surprised by the broad spectrum of people lending their support which was given for a number of different reasons, the principal ones including:

Of those she asked to sign the petition, only 3 people refused, giving the following reasons:

The Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation, along with support from all the Residents' Associations, intends to carry out a series of awareness days over the coming weeks to make sure that the public become more aware of the serious implications of the schools' move on the town and our Green Belt land.

The first awareness day is planned to take place on the 12th of July at Sainsbury's Thorley Neighbourhood Centre. This will be followed by two more awareness days in August and September; details will follow in due course.

The Civic Federation would encourage members of the public to visit our awareness stall to find out more and sign our petition objecting to the proposal.


Public protest meeting held at the Rhodes Centre  Top 

The Bishop's Stortford Liberal Democrats organised a public protest meeting on Saturday, May 24 at the Rhodes Centre, Bishop's Stortford. Among the speakers at the meeting were representatives from the BSCF, Thorley Parish Council and Friends of the Earth.
See here for a report of this meeting.

Public exhibitions held to explain schools relocation  Top 

A public exhibition was arranged to explain the proposals for the expansion and relocation of the Herts & Essex High School and The Bishop's Stortford High School onto a new campus to the north of Whittington Way. The exhibition took place over three days:

Date Time Venue
Tuesday, 8 April 2pm - 8pm Herts & Essex School, Warwick Road
Wednesday, 9 April 2pm - 8pm The Bishop's Stortford High School, London Road
Saturday, 12 April 10am - 4pm The Rhodes Centre, South Street

Representatives from the two schools and Hertfordshire County Council were available to answer questions and listen to opinions.