Stevenage school expansion gets boost

A multi-million pound school expansion to meet demand for extra places moved a stage closer this week after a major design issue was overcome.

Plans to rebuild Martins Wood School in Stevenage to accommodate 30 more pupils reached an important milestone on Monday when Herts County Council cabinet members agreed to publish a statutory notice for the project.

The move comes after councilors agreed to change the design of the new school buildings from separate blocks to one building after governors rejected the original �5.2m council proposed scheme because of a lack of space and concerns over split classes.

The change has meant that the project, initially scheduled for completion in September has been put back a year.

Headteacher Tom Evans said he was optimistic that the rebuild will now go ahead.

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“It means we are nearing having a plan. We are in the final stages of working out a plan that’s acceptable to the council financially in this time of dire straits.

“I’m quite optimistic. It means we are nearing the final stage. We are hoping to have plans at the end of September or the beginning of October. At the end of the day we will get a school that everyone is happy with.”

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The school and county council are in talks with developers Mace and Balfour Beatty over the design.

Mr Evans added: “The cost is coming down. The cost has come down with Mace and now we have got Balfour to compare with Mace to see the best possible plan.

“The council approving the statutory notice must mean that they’re confident.”

A council report on the issue said: “A number of schemes have been designed which explore an integrated solution. At this stage it is considered possible that costs may be able to be reduced to a level which is acceptable and comparable with other expansion schemes.”

Temporary classrooms were craned into the school grounds on Wednesday to accommodate the extra 30 pupils who will be joining the school from September.

An expansion of nearby Giles Infant and Nursery Schools was rejected because it “would not be able to be progressed in the same timescale” as the Martins Wood scheme.

It added that “more importantly” they may be required to accommodate projected demand in the future.

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