Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Peter Lilley attended a meeting on Friday with local Town, District and County Councillors to discuss plans for a new secondary school in Harpenden. They agreed that a new school is vital to meet the rapidly growing demand for places in the Harpenden area but it is important to address the legitimate concerns of local residents about the proposed site, at the junction of the Lower Luton Road and Common Lane.

    “Along with our County Councillors, I have been pushing Hertfordshire County Council for some time to increase school capacity in Harpenden to cope with rapidly growing numbers.  We must end the annual nightmare faced by many families waiting for spaces to become available at our excellent but oversubscribed schools.

    “Given the constraint on space in Harpenden, all the possible sites involved encroaching on the Green Belt, of which I have always been an ardent defender.   However, a new school would be the least bad encroachment on our Green Belt.   It would not create a precedent justifying house building between Harpenden and Wheathampstead which I would strongly oppose.

    “I understand the concerns felt by residents living near the proposed Batford site about this proposal coming out of the blue and the inevitable worries about the impact on the immediate neighbourhood.” said Peter.   “The lack of consultation before now is regrettable, but I am sure that it was not deliberate.

    “Whether the proposed site near Batford is the best of the potential sites around Harpenden is ultimately a matter for the planning and highway authorities and Councillors to decide – after considering local views.   But I am conscious that any site will meet with local objections.  All we can seek to do is to ensure that all objections are considered with an open mind so that we end up with a location that creates the fewest problems.”