Plans for a new secondary school in Stevenage have been withdrawn - just one week after planning permission was granted - due to a lack of need in the town. 

The new school was set to cater for children aged 11 to 19 and be run by Michaela Community Schools Trust – an academy trust which already operates one school in Wembley.

However, the trust has confirmed that following talks with local authorities it will no longer be opening a school in Stevenage.

Katharine Birbalsingh, headmistress of Michaela Community School, said: “When we made our application to open Michaela Community School Stevenage in 2018, the Hertfordshire Local Authority data showed there was a need for a sixth form entry secondary school from 2023.

"This was needed due to the ongoing development and subsequent population growth in the town and surrounding areas.

“We were thrilled when the Department for Education approved the application in 2019 to serve this need and were looking forward to working with Stevenage’s children and families and the local authority.

“However, conversations with the local authority have made it clear that there is no need yet for a new school in Stevenage as the town’s current schools have enough places – and we don’t know when there might be enough need. As a result, we will no longer be opening our school in Stevenage.

“While we are very sad about this, we are clear that it is the right decision. To open our school would be financially detrimental to the existing six secondary schools, as they would lose students.

"I have met a number of education leaders in Stevenage, including one headteacher who visited us in Wembley. We are not in the business of causing challenges for our colleagues at other schools. Far from it, our philosophy is to help schools be as good as they can be for the children and young people they serve.

“Of course, should the picture change in terms of school places and a clear need again be identified, then we would be delighted to consider returning to this project and opening a school in Stevenage.”

Stevenage Borough Council had granted planning permission to developer Bowmer and Kirkland to clear the former Collenswood and Barnwell School buildings and the construct the new academy campus in the Shephall area.

A spokesperson for Hertfordshire County Council said: “We’re disappointed to learn that the Michaela Trust has withdrawn its application to the Department for Education to set up a new free school in Stevenage.

"While the creation of new free schools is a matter for the government, we had committed to improving the existing Stevenage Education Support Centre buildings as part of the DfE’s building scheme. It is unfortunate that these plans will not now be able to go ahead.”