Hitchin school expansion ‘breaches’ regulations

Samuel Lucas School

Samuel Lucas School - Credit: Archant

A CONTROVERSIAL school expansion given the go-ahead on the condition adequate parking would be provided nearby has breached planning rules, it has been claimed.

Samuel Lucas JMI, on Gaping Lane in Hitchin, will be eventually doubled in size after approval earlier this year from Herts County Council, but a condition of that approval was a park and stride scheme to be in use at the nearby Lairage multi-storey car park.

Double the number of reception children started at the school this week, but the county council is still working on legal agreements between itself and car park owners North Herts District Council.

It has prompted claims that planning laws have been breached.

Resident Robin Dartington, from Keep Hitchin Special, said the additional reception class pupils should not have been allowed to start as a result.

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“Residents whose daily safety is affected by excessive traffic and parking next to Samuel Lucas School had been led to believe the school enlargement would lead to all school parking being excluded from the congested streets,” he said.

“North Herts District Council was asked to provide 50 places in the Lairage from September this year. The planning permission is a legal document that requires the park and stride to be in place as a condition for occupation of the temporary classroom. That means that 50 permits should have been issued to the school in advance.”

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A district council spokesman said legal agreements between the council and Herts County Council would take “a few weeks” to sign.

Cllr Tom Brindley, district council portfolio holder for planning, transport and enterprise, added: “North Herts District Council will offer up to 50 permits at the Lairage car park for parents during the one-year trial period of the park and stridewhich was agreed to at a meeting of the council’s Cabinet in July.”

A HCC spokesman failed to respond to claims the planning agreement was breach.

But the spokesman added: “An agreement has been finalised for North Herts District Council to issue up to 50 permits for a one year trial period. Parents can apply for these permits now and should ask the school for information on this.

“The condition attached to the planning permission for the classroom building requires a park and stride facility to be available for the lifetime of the development. It does not specify the number of spaces that should be available or that the facility should be the Lairage multi-storey car park.”

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