County High could expand under new development plans

SAFFRON Walden County High could be expanded to help cater for an influx of students if plans to build hundreds of homes are given the green light.

At an Uttlesford District Council cabinet meeting, members approved an emergent dispersal strategy which would see 880 homes built in Saffron Walden over the next 15 years.

It is all part of the district council’s new Local Development Framework – due for completion in the summer of 2013.

Councillor Susan Barker said school officials had been approached about the possibility of expansion if the spike in growth necessitated it.

“The emergent strategy would put pressure on existing schools but there is the possibility of Saffron Walden County High and Helena Romanes School creating separate facilities to accommodate more students,” she said.

“It is something that needs to be looked at. You cannot just build houses and not consider the impact it will have on schooling.”

Speaking to the Reporter, headteacher John Hartley stressed that any discussions were in the very early stages and that the school’s governors would be seeking a meeting with planners at the district council to discuss the matter further.

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“We are well aware of the evolving plans [the district council’s new emergent strategy] and the senior team and the governors will be considering how we want to respond to them,” he said.

“I must stress that we want to retain 11-18 education on this site and that will be part of our discussions with the district council.

“We will be putting our views across with the planners and will look to exchange ideas about how educational needs should be met when we do so.”

As part of the approved plans, Dunmow is also likely to see an additional 1,150 homes built before 2026. Headteacher at HRS Simon Knight confirmed the school would be happy to discuss any possible expansion.

Fears have been raised about the impact the housing development will have on schools, GP surgeries and the infrastructure in the two main towns and key villages identified.

In addition to the development in Saffron Walden and Dunmow, Elsenham would see a further 400 homes built, Newport 370, Takeley 200 and Great Chesterford 100. Stansted and Thaxted would also get 60 along with a further 100 in other rural settlements.