Knebworth residents' fury at plans for new secondary school
UNHAPPY residents came out in droves last night (Wednesday) to voice their opposition to plans to build a secondary school in their village. Hundreds of people crammed into Knebworth Village Hall for a public meeting about a proposal to build a school and
UNHAPPY residents came out in droves last night (Wednesday) to voice their opposition to plans to build a secondary school in their village.
Hundreds of people crammed into Knebworth Village Hall for a public meeting about a proposal to build a school and up to 200 homes on 90 acres of Green Belt land next to the cemetery in Knebworth. The Comet was originally told by the We Need a School campaign leader, Juliet Pomerance, the proposed site for the development was close to Lessiter's chocolate factory on London Road in Knebworth, and was only informed at last night's meeting that this is now not the case.
Ms Pomerance, of Westland Road in Knebworth, said the intention is to build up to 200 homes on 30 acres of land, raking in an estimated �36m to help fund the school build on a 60-acre plot.
The school, intended to accommodate up to 900 11 to 16 year olds, will cost an estimated �10.2m to build, with �9.1m set aside as an endowment. The remainder of the �36m would go to Knebworth House, to restore the historic building and to act as an endowment.
Ms Pomerance, a mother-of-three, said plans for the school site include a woodland area, pond, recreational area and indoor swimming pool for community use.
But residents baulked at the idea, with not one member of the public voicing support for the plans.
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Alexandra Carter, of Cherry Close, said: "It's just going to cause terrible destruction." She added: "The people who live in this village live here because it's a village, and it's turning into a town," to which people clapped and cheered.
Julie Ansell, who has lived in the village for 35 years, said: "Knebworth is a village and it's important for it to stay a village. There are so many hurdles to go over too, I think we would be better getting behind the Building Schools for the Future and improving the schools in Stevenage for our children." Building Schools for the Future is a scheme which is set to rebuild, remodel or relocate secondary schools, special schools and education support centres across the county, starting in Stevenage from 2011.
Ms Pomerance said: "We are at a time now when there is a deal on the table. People are moving away from the village [because there is no secondary school]. It's losing part of its community and I think we need to embrace change."
For more reaction to the plans, see next week's Comet.