Plans Not Approved For Harpenden Free School

Less than two weeks before lessons are due to start at Harpenden Free School plans have not been approved.

Less than two weeks before lessons are due to start at Harpenden Free School plans have not been approved.

The school is located up a narrow country lane just off of the busy A5183. St Albans City and District Council have not given approval over concerns that access is not suitable. 

There is also a problem with the school building- lessons will take place in a restored 14th century barn however when the school applied to change the purpose of the barn there were errors made. 

Laurence Moore, Development Manager, Planning and Building Control at St Albans City and District Council, issued Heart with this statement:

“This is a complicated planning application that requires detailed consideration before a decision is made. Statute specifies that applications of this nature are normally considered within eight weeks, assuming that all the relevant information has been supplied. We received the planning application on 4 July and on this basis a decision was due to be made by 30 August, providing all the information was to hand.

“However, we have just received two objections to the application which need further investigation – one on consultation and one on transportation. We will try to come to a conclusion as quickly as possible once all the relevant information has been supplied.

“We are working with the applicant to ensure that all the relevant paperwork is in place so a decision can be made as soon as possible.”

A Planning Committee will meet on the 10th September to decide on whether the school can run on this site.

Chairman of the school Adam Nichols spoke to Heart and said parents shouldn't worry as they've got a contingency plan in place- a different building in the centre of Harpenden.

He said he'd be disappointed if the application does get rejected because the open-plan barn in the countryside is more ideal:

"There's a very strong emphasis in our ethos about outdoor learning so what we've got here is some beautiful grounds we've got a meadow we're going to have the children growing vegetables and cooking their own vegetables and that sort of thing so it lends itself very well" 

Mr Nichols and the other school governors only found out 11 months ago that they had permission to open a Free School.

He says the limited time they have to open is big problem throughout the UK with limited premises available.

He says this is something the government needs to change with Free Schools growing in popularity.

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