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Herts County Council deliberates on new Bishop's Stortford High School plans

The clock is ticking on plans for a relocated Bishop's Stortford High School.

Members of Herts County Council's development control committee meet on Wednesday (May 20) at 10am to discuss detailed proposals for the new campus off Whittington Way with a recommendation that they sign off the scheme so building can begin.

A report to the committee reminds councillors: "The construction of the school is part-funded by Government grant. The conditions placed on Government funding require the school development to commence during 2020."

General Views - File Shots.Bishops Stortford.The Bishops Stortford High School. (34850655)
General Views - File Shots.Bishops Stortford.The Bishops Stortford High School. (34850655)

An associated application for a temporary access road for the new 22.7-acre (9.2 hectares) school site was given planning permission last month for the duration of construction work until October 2022.

TBSHS governors have submitted a separate application to build 223 houses on the secondary's existing London Road site as part of the project's financing. This proposal, which prompted a torrent of objections on the grounds of congestion and pollution, is still under consideration by East Herts Council.

The new school is a key part of housebuilder Countryside's plans for a 750-home estate, known as Stortford South, which also includes a primary school with three forms of entry (3FE), or 90 pupils per year group.

BS South Site, Bishop's Stortford. Archaeolgy open day. .Pic Vikki Lince. (34850524)
BS South Site, Bishop's Stortford. Archaeolgy open day. .Pic Vikki Lince. (34850524)

The HCC committee is to consider an initial phase of development comprising a 10,017 sq m (107,639 sq ft) school building, a 1,793 sq m (19,300 sq ft) sports hall, a floodlit multi-use games area and parking. Proposals for 3G rugby and football pitches, a caretaker's house and conference centre – all mentioned in the outline planning application which has already been approved – will require detailed approval.

An archaeological dig in preparation for the project has revealed "regionally important archaeological evidence relating to occupation and land use of this area from the later prehistoric period (circa 1600BC) through to the medieval period".

A report to the committee says: "These include very extensive remains of a Roman farmstead with possible pre-conquest origins, and areas of closely spaced ditches which might be vineyards, or other specialist agriculture, as well as postholes or rectilinear structures and a trackway dating to the late Anglo-Saxon/early conquest period."

The county's historic environment advisor suggests to the committee that creation of an integrated archive and full publication of the results of all the archaeological work should be a condition of planning permission.

East Herts Council supports the school proposal in principle but has highlighted concerns about lack of detail relating to landscaping and a new cycle path.

Thorley Parish Council is opposed to the scheme, which has also been criticised by Bishop's Stortford's town council and civic federation, because it is "intrinsically linked" to the new homes on the current TBSHS site and because of increased traffic on London Road.

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