Traffic concerns delay decision on new Stevenage secondary school

Outside the former Collenswood School and Barnwell campus site in Stevenage

If planning permission is granted, the vacant former Collenswood School and Barnwell campus buildings in Stevenage will be demolished to make way for a new Michaela Community School - Credit: Google Maps

A decision on whether to grant planning permission for a new secondary school in Stevenage that promises "to bring the values and advantages of a private education to young people of all backgrounds" has been deferred due to traffic concerns.

If planning permission is granted, the vacant former Collenswood School and Barnwell campus buildings in Collenswood Road and Redwing Close will be demolished to make way for a new branch of London's Michaela Community School, which has the reputation of being Britain's strictest school.

As well as the mixed 11-19 free school with capacity for 1,260 pupils, the on-site Stevenage Education Support Centre would be upgraded with a new single-storey building.

The site for the proposed new Michaela Community School in Stevenage

The site for the proposed new Michaela Community School in Stevenage - Credit: Ares Landscape Architects LTD

However, concerns have been raised over the main entrance for the new school being on Redwing Close, as this road has historically only been used for limited purposes and not as the main entrance to Collenswood School or Barnwell campus.

In a report to Stevenage Borough Council's Planning and Development Committee recommending planning approval, the council's planning officer warns of "significant adverse impacts on the living conditions of neighbouring residents," as the school would "attract a significant amount of traffic to the site, resulting in noise disturbance, impacts on air quality, and inconvenience for residents in finding on-street parking spaces".

However, the officer says "the benefits of granting permission are considered to significantly outweigh the adverse impacts".

The committee has deferred making a decision on whether to grant planning permission, asking the applicant to provide further information on "the mitigation for Redwing Close, including marshalling conditions and a potential traffic order for the road, to protect residents from increased traffic".

It has also asked the applicant to provide more pedestrian access to the site, and more information about the impact of proposed acoustic fencing on nearby residents.

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A spokesman for Michaela said: "Our aim is to bring the values and advantages of a private education to young people of all backgrounds and nurture pupils to become engaged and informed citizens."

The original Michaela Community School is known for its strict discipline, with silent corridors and a traditional approach to teaching.