Plans to double size of Hitchin primary school

A PRIMARY school could be doubled in size within less than a decade to meet the increasing demand of school places in the district.

Samuel Lucas JMI in Gaping Lane, Hitchin, currently has one form of entry for each year group.

But Herts County Council wants to have two reception classes of 30 pupils each - twice the current number - from September 2012.

It means that, within six years, the school could double in size as pupils make their way up the year groups.

“In line with recent national trends, we are now seeing a significant increase in the demand for reception class places in parts of Hertfordshire and this is forecast to increase further,” said the county council.

“The county council considers it vital to ensure that there are sufficient places available for very young children as near as possible to their homes.”

In order to accommodate pupils, the school would have to be expanded and additional buildings would have to be built.

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It is one of few primary schools in the town that the county council considers has the capacity to do so.

But resident Nafisa Sayany said that she and other residents have some concerns over the proposals. She does not believe that there is demand in that area of the town for such a big expansion.

“I find the consultation quite a sham. Only the people who have an interest in the school have been notified, not residents nor the wider community,” she said.

“I have concerns over congestion at the entrance. I don’t think it would be feasible, and it’s already quite dangerous for children.”

The county council said that it believed the expansion would be a positive thing for the town.

It added: “The county council believes that the expansion of Samuel Lucas JMI School will have a positive impact for its existing pupils, staff and local community by improving access to school places, providing for enhanced education opportunities and for improved facilities in new buildings.

“Planning permission would be required for any building work. Any specific town planning matters associated with this schools site would need to be addressed as part of the planning application, including highways, parking and conservation issues.”

A consultation is currently underway and ends on Tuesday.

The county council education panel and Cabinet will discuss the proposals in September. A decision will then be made in November.

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