proposals for the future of the former sunny bank school site, field

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Agenda Item No.
HERTFORDSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL
5
CABINET
MONDAY, 16 MAY 2011 AT 2.00 PM
PROPOSALS FOR THE FUTURE OF THE FORMER SUNNY BANK
SCHOOL SITE, FIELD VIEW ROAD, POTTERS BAR
Report of the Director of Resources & Performance
Author:
Dick Bowler
(Tel: 01992 556223)
Executive Members: David Lloyd, Resources & Economic Well-Being
Richard Thake, Education & Skills
Local members:
Eddie Roach (Potters Bar East)
Stuart Pile (Hatfield South)
1.
Purpose of report
1.1
To enable Cabinet to consider the future of the former Sunny Bank
Primary School, Field View Road, Potters Bar and to formulate a policy
for this site.
2.
Summary
2.1
The Sunny Bank Primary School was closed and has been vacant
since August 2007. The site has an area of 2.84 hectares (7 acres) and
is not required by the County Council to meet existing or predicted
future educational needs for primary school places in this location.
2.2
There are various on-going costs to the County Council associated with
continuing to retain this former school. To ensure better use of its
property assets, it is proposed that the feasibility of alternative uses
and redevelopment opportunities to generate capital receipts for this
site are investigated.
2.3
The need to relocate the Key Stage 4 part of The Park Education
Support Centre (ESC) from its current accommodation within the New
Barnfield Centre, Travellers Lane, Hatfield, is the subject of a separate
report to Cabinet at its meeting on 16 May 2011 (the report at item 4 of
the agenda refers). A part of the former Sunny Bank School site, with
appropriate adjustments, is available and would provide suitable
alternative accommodation.
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2.4
There may also be an opportunity for the County Council to explore the
feasibility of development opportunities for the site which could result in
the County Council generating capital receipts.
3.
Recommendations
3.1
That Cabinet agrees that:-
4.
(i)
the former infants block part of the former Sunny Bank School
site, Potters Bar, be allocated for use by the Key Stage 4 part of
The Park ESC;
(ii)
an application be made for planning permission for the ESC site
allocation within the former Sunny Bank School site with the
objective that the ESC part should become self-contained and
with a new separate access to Sunnybank Road;
(iii)
an application be made for planning permission for residential
development of the former juniors block part of the former
Sunny Bank School site; and
(iv)
representations be made to forthcoming Hertsmere Borough
Council Local Development Framework consultations indicating
that the balance of the former Sunny Bank School site could be
made available for land uses as may be determined though the
adoption of new Local Development Documents.
Background
The site
4.1
The former Sunny Bank Primary School, Field View Road, Potters Bar
has been closed and unused since August 2007.
4.2
Hertfordshire County Council owns the freehold interest to this site
which is located in a predominantly residential area to the south west of
Potters Bar.
4.3
The whole site is designated as a Metropolitan Green Belt. It comprises
of vacant school premises and accompanying playing fields with a total
site area of 2.84 hectares (7.02 acres) and is shown on Appendix 1
plan 00330659 attached.
4.4
There are two main buildings on the site; the northern block previously
housed the Junior School and the southern one housed the Infant
School. An enclosed walkway, comprising wooden slatted sides and a
Perspex roof links the two buildings. The southern block is single
storey with a taller gymnasium at the western end. The northern block
is mainly single storey. There are hard surfaced play areas to the north
of the former Junior School and to the south of the former infant
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School. The former school’s playing fields are situated to the west of
the site.
4.5
The site of the former Sunny Bank School is on a slope rising up to the
south. The playing fields area of the site is flat but sunk down and
surrounded by a mound of approximately 2-3m.
4.6
Whilst the site is located wholly in the green belt, its urban location can
be seen from the drawings attached as Appendix 2, 3 and 4 showing
the aerial photograph, the site appraisal and the urban context
respectively. The site lies in the green belt, rather than within the urban
area, owing to the historic planning policy of showing schools located
on urban fringes as within the green belt and not in the settlement they
adjoin and serve. But for that policy, in this case a perhaps more logical
boundary to the green belt would have been along the southern
boundary of the school site.
Education uses
4.7
The County Council’s Children, School & Families (CSF) department
has advised that the former Sunny Bank School is not located in an
area of existing or predicted future demand for additional primary
school places. As such the site is not required by the County Council to
meet its current or predicted educational obligations to provide primary
school places in Potters Bar.
4.8
The New Barnfield Centre located at Travellers Lane in south east
Hatfield was agreed as the reference site for the County Council’s
Waste Procurement Project. On 20 October 2008, Cabinet resolved to
commence projects to relocate the various services, including the Key
Stage 3 part of The Park ESC, to suitable alternative accommodation.
Consideration has been given to the suitability, with any necessary
adaptation, of the former Infant block at the former Sunny Bank School
to accommodate this use.
4.9
As the established use of the whole site is within planning use class D1
non-residential institutions, and that includes education use, in principle
planning permission is not required for use of part of the site for the
ESC use. Initially, therefore, with any necessary internal refurbishment
and adaptation not requiring permission and utilising the existing
access from Field View Road, the former Infants part of the site is
immediately available for the use and Cabinet would need to decide to
make an allocation for the use. The provision in the approved capital
programme would be use to fund refurbishment and adaptation.
4.10
That site allocation would inform a decision to agree that The Key
Stage 3 part of The Park ESC does relocate to this site, and a separate
report on the agenda of this Cabinet meeting allows consideration of
the results of the consultation on such a move (the report at item 4 of
the agenda refers).
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4.11
To inform the site requirements for the ESC and the longer term
planning for the whole of the former Sunny bank School site, an
appraisal of the desired outcome for the site boundary and access
arrangements for the ESC has been carried out and is shown on the
drawing at Appendix 5. This shows a curtilage that allows the site and
premises requirements of the ESC to be met with good separation from
the remainder of the site and with a new independent access off
Sunnybank Road. A planning application will be needed to establish
that separate site/planning unit with its new access. That application
would be taken forward if a decision to relocate the Key Stage 3 part of
The Park ESC to this site is made and has been implemented.
Other uses
4.12
It is incumbent on the County Council to review options for the future
use of the whole of the site. If the former Infants block part of the site is
allocated for ESC use the balance of the site can be considered for
other uses.
4.13
As can be seen from the Site Appraisal plan at Appendix 3, large parts
of the eastern part of the site are covered by buildings and hard
surface areas and can be considered as ‘previously developed land’ in
the town planning regime. But for the green belt designation, the site of
the former junior block would be immediately suitable for an application
for planning permission for residential redevelopment and could be
considered as a ‘windfall’ site by the Local Planning Authority.
4.14
Hertsmere Borough Council, as Local Planning Authority, has
undertaken various early consultations on its Core Strategy and may
move to a pre-deposit version later this year. However, it would seem
likely that a subsequent Site Allocations development plan document
and consideration of potential changes to green belt boundaries may
be some considerable time away. In these circumstances it is proposed
that Cabinet now authorises an application for residential development
of the former junior block part of the site.
4.15
As a former school site, consideration needs to be given to the
protection of school playing fields regime. The whole of the eastern
part of the site is the subject of an available Closing Schools general
consent for disposal.
4.16
The west part of the site comprises the former school playing field. It is
proposed that the future of this part of the site is considered as a part
of the Local Development Framework processes and that
representations be made to forthcoming Hertsmere Borough Council
consultations indicating that part of the former Sunny Bank School site
could be made available for land uses as may be determined though
the adoption of new Local Development Documents.
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5.
Equalities implications
5.1
When considering proposals placed before Members it is important that
they are fully aware of, and have themselves actively considered, the
Council’s statutory obligations in relation to equalities. This will include
paying close attention to any equalities impact assessment produced by
officers.
5.2
The Equality Act 2010 requires the Council, when exercising its functions,
to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, harassment,
victimisation and other conduct prohibited under the Act, promote equality
of opportunity for and foster good relations with individuals with protected
characteristics. The protected characteristics under the Equalities Act 2010
are: race, disability, gender, age, sexual orientation, religious belief and
pregnancy & maternity.
5.3
The Park ESC provides KS3 provision for pupils from a wide area
around the A1 corridor, which covers Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City,
Potters Bar and Borehamwood. The provision is currently located in
Hatfield, fairly central to the area it serves.
5.4
The proposed relocation to Potters Bar, to the south of the area it
serves, will result in some pupils travelling longer distances to access
their education, and some pupils having a shorter distance to travel.
The nature of the provision means that the pupils attending the ESC
changes regularly and, therefore, the numbers of pupils who may have
to travel further will vary across the academic year. All pupils are
encouraged currently to travel independently to the ESC.
6.
Financial Implications
6.1
There are various on-going costs to the County Council for managing
and retaining the former Sunny Bank School site. These include the
cost of guarding the premises and maintenance costs associated with
ensuring the fabric of the buildings is kept in repair ensuring that they
are wind and watertight hence preventing rapid deterioration of the
buildings.
6.2
The former infant block on the southern part of the site offers a viable
asset management solution for the County Council should it wish to
relocate the The Park ESC from the New Barnfield Centre. The use of
part of the Sunny Bank School site for this proposal would mitigate
acquisition costs associated with relocating the New Barnfield ESC to
land not already in the County Council ownership.
6.3
The cost of remodelling the former infant block, and provision of a new
access, to make it suitable for ESC use has been initially estimated at
£950,000 with cash flow dependant on a decision to let a works
contract. Use of a relatively small part of the site and expenditure of
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capital to provide permanent replacement ESC accommodation is
considered to represent good value for money.
6.4
The disposal of parts of the site of the former Sunny Bank School could
potentially provide a redevelopment opportunity which in turn could
enable the County Council to generate and realise capital receipts. The
amounts of such receipts would be directly related to the value of the
land with the benefit of grant of planning permission(s) for residential
development.
6.5
The costs of further feasibility work and of making planning
application(s) would be met from the corporate budget for feasibility
studies, rationalisation work and contingent land purchase that
supports corporate rationalisation of the estate and the property
disposal programme.
7.
Conclusions
7.1
A part of the site can be allocated for Education Support Centre use.
Under a separate report Cabinet is to give consideration to the results
of consultation on a proposed relocation of the Key Stage 4 part of The
Park ESC to the former infants block part of the former Sunny Bank
School site.
7.2
There is an opportunity to promote the former juniors block part of the
site for residential development, being previously developed land, by
way of a planning application to Hertsmere Borough Council and in
advance of that Council’s further Local Development Framework
processes. It is proposed that Cabinet authorises the submission of a
planning application.
7.1.1 The remainder the former Sunny Bank School may have future
development potential, depending upon the need for additional housing
as determined by the Hertsmere Borough Council Local Development
Framework processes, including any review of green belt boundaries.
It is proposed that suitable representations be made to the Local
Planning authority indicating the potential availability of this land.
List of Appended Plans
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
HCC Land Asset Plan – Sunny Bank School site
V&G Plan – Aerial Photo
V&G Plan – Site Appraisal
V&G Plan – Urban Context
V&G Plan – Allocation of part for ESC use
Background Information
Cabinet report, 20 October 2011
Cabinet report, 28 April 2011
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