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Chancellor's School transport survey underway

Building plans to be resubmitted when complete


The main entrance to Chancellor's School - image by North Mymms News released under Creative Commons

Chancellor's School is waiting for the results of a new transport survey that will assess the likely impact of the proposed expansion of the school on the neighbourhood, in particular in terms of traffic flow and parking. The school hopes the results will be known later this month or early next year.

However a self-appointed group, which claims to have unanimous support of local residents is opposing the plans because "of the likelihood of increased traffic along Pine Grove, George's Wood Road, and at the junction with the Great North Road".

On 22 August, 2018, Chancellor’s applied for planning permission to expand the school buildings in order to accommodate an increase in pupil numbers.

Consultation with the community regarding the proposal - planning application 6/2018/2178/FULL  - resulted in adverse comments and objections. That application was withdrawn on 12 October 2018.

Once the current transport review is complete, Chancellor's says the school will resubmit the planning application, and, if successful, embark on a building programme to provide the accommodation needed for additional students as the school expands to seven forms of entry.

Reasons for proposed expansion


Chancellor’s says Hertfordshire County Council asked the school to expand in 2017 in order to help meet the county's increased demand for additional secondary school spaces in the short to medium term (2018 to 2022).

Chancellor’s was considered to be “well placed to expand and take an additional form of entry to meet the basic need for school places in the Hatfield area”.

The school agreed to admit an additional 30 pupils each year from September 2019 onwards.

Chancellor’s says that to meet that need, expansion is necessary because the site is already “deficient in teaching spaces for the current pupil numbers”, the current classrooms are too small with "overcrowding prevalent" which is “placing considerable strain on the already limited and undersized facilities”.

Parking has also been identified as a priority, both in the travel assessment commissioned and also in discussions with local residents. Chancellor's says additional parking provision has been considered in the design process and the planning application.

Proposed expansion


The school is planning for “a single new build with the essential additional teaching spaces (seven classrooms) and a new sports block, as well as a replacement hard play area (four sports pitches), new parking bay markings on the existing hard play surface and provision for two temporary classrooms”.
"The two temporary classrooms have been included to accommodate the additional 30 number pupils who will be attending the school in September 2019 as this is the first year of additional intake of pupils.  It is unlikely that the new build construction works will be complete until early 2020 whereupon the temporary classrooms will be removed."
Below are drawings of both the existing site plan and the planned extension.



Current site plan Image courtesy of Chancellor's School
Current site plan
Image courtesy of Chancellor's School

Proposed location plan of new Sports Centre and General Teaching Block Image courtesy of Chancellor's School
Proposed location plan of new Sports Centre and General Teaching Block
Image courtesy of Chancellor's School


New Sports Hall block Ground Floor Plan 1:100  Internal Ground Floor Area 1058m2 Image courtesy of Chancellor's School
New Sports Hall block Ground Floor Plan 1:100
Internal Ground Floor Area 1058m2

Image courtesy of Chancellor's School


New Sports Hall block First Floor Plan 1:100
Internal Ground Floor Area 366m2

Image courtesy of Chancellor's School

Local concerns about parking and traffic


Photograph of Weekday parking close to the Chancellor's entrance on Pine Grove Image by North Mymms News, released under Creative Commons
Weekday parking close to the Chancellor's entrance on Pine Grove
Image by North Mymms News, released under Creative Commons

The expansion plans are being opposed by representatives of residents in Pine Grove. They're concerned about "the likelihood of increased traffic on Pine Grove, George's Wood Road, and at the junction with the A1000 the Great North Road".

The group says parking and traffic flow around the school is already causing difficulties, and they are unhappy with earlier proposals to try to address this. And they are fearful that Chancellor's decision to apply for academy status could exacerbate the problem that any development at the school might cause.

Academy status for Chancellor's School


The governing body at Chancellor's has applied for academy status under the Academies Act 2010, and has explored the issue with the Danes Educational Trust. Those living near to the school were informed by letter on 28 September, 2018.





Increased concern regarding local traffic


On 13 October 2018 a circular was distributed door-to-door in Pine Grove setting out concerns that academy status could increase the traffic problems local residents were already experiencing.
The one thing which seems certain is that as an Academy, within the Danes Educational Trust, will aim to expand and attract pupils from a WIDER catchment area, not merely Hatfield. The travel and parking problem which exists now will doubtless become more acute. It seems that most residents in Pine Grove would welcome some form of Parking Restriction throughout its length from the junction with Georges Wood Road.

We would welcome knowing whether you would sign a Petition to the local authority in support such an application. Note that this will take time for laborious consultations to take place. With enough local support we therefore propose making a request for a parking restriction to be applied to Pine Grove as soon as possible. 
Two weeks later, on 28 October 2018, another letter was circulated.
We believe that in the present circumstances where there is no form of traffic control in Pine Grove and a lack of any concerted effort by the school to reduce the use of the private cars for transporting individual children to the school, any action taken by the school which might lead to continuation of these policies which totally disregard the community's rights, together with the expansion programme, must be opposed.

We fear that conversion to an Academy will lead to the catchment area of the school being substantially extended and that this will lead to even more traffic in Pine Grove and surrounding road infrastructure.
There is also concern that academy status "risks the school losing its local reputation and distinctive identity". A letter has been circulated setting out their five concerns about a possible change.
  • Change to academy status has been forced on schools where they have been classified as failing following inspections. However, Chancellor's is a highly successful school and does not need to convert for this reason. 
  • Government policy is no longer pushing for schools to convert, though it is understood that about half of Hertfordshire secondary schools have done so. 
  • Schools convert to receive money from central government not local authority sources. This seems to imply that the local and county authority will have much less influence over Chancellor's in respect of the management of the school. (Some academies have run into severe management and financial difficulties due to financial shenanigans and abuse of the freedom that such schools have). We believe that it is in residents’ interests that there should be greater not less influence and local control over what happens to Chancellor’s especially in respect of its expansion plans. 
  • We also believe that in the present circumstances where there is no form of traffic control in Pine Grove and a lack of any concerted effort by the school to reduce the use of the private cars for transporting individual children to the school, any action taken by the school which might lead to continuation of these policies which totally disregard the community’s rights, together with the expansion programme, must be opposed. 
  • We fear that conversion to an academy will lead to the catchment area of the school being substantially extended and that this will lead to even more traffic in Pine Grove and surrounding road infrastructure.

Comments from school and residents


This site invited both Chancellor's School and representatives of residents in Pine Grove to set out their positions about the school's future.

This from the headteacher at Chancellor's, David Croston:
“We are happy to fulfil our responsibility to the local community by agreeing to expand Chancellor’s by one form of entry in order to meet the local need for school places. There is currently a shortfall of places for the projected population in Hatfield.

Furthermore, the opportunity to invest in the school’s infrastructure will allow us to make improvements to the existing facilities, providing the school with a much-needed sports hall along with a new classroom block. This will be of huge benefit to the existing student body as well as the local community and the new students starting in the future.

At all times throughout the design process, we have listened to the residents on Pine Grove in order to understand their concerns, particularly with regards to transport and traffic control, with a view to seeking the outcome that best meets the needs of all concerned.

For example, as a result of this dialogue, we have included additional parking in our planning application and reviewed our travel plan to ensure a greater emphasis on public transport and sustainable methods of travel.

We will continue to appeal to parents, asking them to avoid driving on Pine Grove wherever possible and urging to them to be considerate of local residents.

The proposed academisation is completely separate to the request to expand and the related pending planning application. They are not linked at all. We are immensely proud of our school and the role it continues to play in the local area and academisation should not change this in any way.

We see academisation as the most effective means of securing future autonomy, local control and financial sustainability and we are excited by the opportunity presented by joining the Danes Educational Trust.

There are no plans to change the admissions criteria beyond that which has been directly requested of us by Hertfordshire County Council. Chancellor’s was founded to serve the communities of Brookmans Park, Potters Bar, Hatfield and the surrounding Hertfordshire villages and it will continue to do so in the future.”
The group claiming to represent residents in Pine Grove says:
"We do not understand why there should be additional classroom capacity at Chancellor's. It is obvious that it is beneficial to HCC to expand a school like Chancellor's rather than provide funds for a new school, say in Hatfield, where the demand is largely coming from. However there is no significant demand for extra classroom capacity for students from the Brookmans Park area and therefore it seem wholly inappropriate and self-serving for HCC to choose to expand Chancellor's with its severe traffic and on-road parking problems.
With Chancellor's application to join a Multi-Academy Trust with St Clement Danes School in Chorleywood and its ever-expanding relationship with Mount Grace School in Potters Bar under the Chancellor's and Mount Grace Consortium, it is obvious that traffic flows and parking in Pine Grove will increase markedly. This is not acceptable.

If planning consent for any extension is granted, the residents in Pine Grove insist that HCC and Chancellor's accept responsibility for the impact that that current and increased traffic and additional parking will have on the residents of Pine Grove and Georges Wood Road. It is imperative that HCC and Chancellor's undertake to provide a fair and reasonable long-term solution to the traffic and parking problems.

In a recent survey of traffic flow taken in September the following movements were noted:

Between 7.00am and 9.30am: Traffic In 375 - Traffic Out: 295 -Total movements 670. Between 2.15pm and 3.30pm: Traffic In: 142 - Traffic Out: 184 -Total movements 326. Total movements during the day: 996 vehicles.

During the above periods there were significant traffic jams in Pine Grove and severe delays getting out onto the A1000 Great North Road.

Residents believe that this is already and unacceptable volume of traffic causing not only traffic jams but also significant amounts of noise and pollution.

Given that Pine Grove is cul-de-sac, the residents believe that the only fair and responsible solution would be for Chancellor's to withdraw their planning application.

However, if they do go ahead with the expansion project, they must provide and fund a double-decker bus service collecting pupils from the various areas that are accepted at the school. A double-decker bus can carry about sixty-five pupils which would mean, on average, that instead of 996 vehicles it would require about 15 or 16 buses.

With regard to parking, residents are seeking a one-hour parking restriction to apply to non-residents parking in Pine Grove and the school approach road."
The first new students are due to start at Chancellor’s in September 2019.




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