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Stortford North: Herts County Council confirms planning permission for new secondary school

Planning permission for a brand new secondary school for the 2,690-home Stortford North development has been confirmed.

The campus, straddling the A120 bypass, will serve students living on the separate Stortford Fields and St Michael's Hurst estates. It is hoped classes will begin in September 2022.

Local education authority Herts County Council, which is behind the school plans, confirmed permission before Christmas.

The Stortford Fields development under construction inside the A120 Bishop's Stortford bypass. (43590731)
The Stortford Fields development under construction inside the A120 Bishop's Stortford bypass. (43590731)

It will be run by the Avanti Schools Trust, which is in charge of the new primary school, Avanti Meadows, being built on former allotments land off Farnham Road. It was due to open three months ago, but because of the impact of Covid-19, the first pupils will be enrolled at the St Michael's Hurst site a year later, in September 2021.

A second primary, near Hoggate's Wood, will complete the educational provision for around 2,690 households on the two Stortford North developments. The county council is to hold talks with Avanti in January with a view to this school opening in September 2023 or 2024 to ensure it brings forward provision in line with demand.

The Hindu faith-based organisation runs 10 schools in London, Leicester, Bristol, Somerset and Exeter. It is responsible for 2,700 students and 250 members of staff.

When at full capacity, its 'all-through learning village' for Bishop's Stortford will provide 1,050 primary places over the two sites – 420 at Stortford Fields and 630 at St Michael's Hurst – and 900 secondary places for children aged 11-plus.

Construction of the secondary school must begin within three years as a condition of the planning permission, which also includes stipulations for a raft of environmental measures.

For example, the new school's design will include air source heat pumps, photovoltaic roof panels and a hybrid thermal mixing system with mechanical heat recovery "to support renewable and low-carbon energy".

Car parking provision will include recharging points for electric vehicles and there will be a 20mph speed limit around the school's entrance and exit as HCC encourages walking and cycling to school instead.

As part of the permission, the new school must set out how it will share its facilities – including a sports hall, playing fields, multi-use games area and activity studio – with the community.

The secondary's playing fields will be accessed via a bridge. Herts county councillor for Stortford West, Colin Woodward, said that he was anxious to ensure the crossing over the A120 bypass was enclosed for safety reasons.

He said: "I have consistently suggested that it should be enclosed, like Johnson's Crossing [at Grange Paddocks], given past issues with items thrown from bridges onto roads, including the bypass, and concerns for vulnerable individuals.

"I'd rather we didn't assume that there is no potential for problems when enclosure shouldn't be a significant cost if done during construction."

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