Work begins at site of Bishop's Stortford school's new sports centre
Herts and Essex High School has sectioned off parts of its playing field at Beldams Lane ready for preliminary work on ambitious plans for a new sports complex which will also be used by members of the public.
A spokeswoman for the Warwick Road secondary and its governors confirmed the proposals were progressing.
The science college is expanding from 5.6 forms of entry (1,225 students) to six forms of entry (1,350 students) and, as a result, needs to reconfigure its campus.
It has submitted a planning application to East Herts Council to generate extra classroom capacity by converting its existing gym into a centre for sixth-formers, who have previously not had a dedicated study or social space.
A new gym would be built at Beldams Lane as part of a sports centre, along with an all-weather hockey pitch and tennis courts for use by pupils and the public.
The knock-on effect of losing playing pitches would be rectified by adding a sports field on land south of Bowling Lane.
The project requires a financial partnership with local education authority Hertfordshire County Council, the Education and Skills Funding Agency and East Herts Council. Bishop’s Stortford Hockey Club, Bishop’s Stortford Judo Club and netball clubs Saffron Hawks and Crosskeys of Harlow are all partners in the new sports facilities.
The school owns the Beldams Lane site, which becomes waterlogged in winter months and unsuitable for PE lessons. It wants to transform the area with a four-court sports centre to deliver the curriculum during the school day and offer facilities for the community in the evenings.
It will accommodate volleyball, badminton, basketball and netball in accordance with Sport England standards, indoor and outdoor changing, a foyer and seating area on the ground floor, dance and judo facilities, catering, community and conference space.
Outside there will be a retained grassed playing pitch which can be used in the summer months for informal sports training.
An all-weather pitch located to the north of the building will be to Sport England standard for hockey for use by the school and Bishop’s Stortford Hockey Club. The pitch will be enclosed by an ‘acoustic fence’ to reduce noise levels.
There will be six new tennis/netball courts to replace those at Warwick Road, again for school use in the day and the community in the evenings. In particular, the Crosskeys and Hawks netball clubs will use the facilities.
A permanent car park with 56 regular and eight disabled spaces, and an overflow car park with 100 spaces will also be provided.
In 2010, an application by developer Countryside Properties to build 180 homes on the Beldams Lane land was refused by East Herts and the decision was upheld after an appeal.