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We have objected to plans to site two new schools at Whittington Way on the south side of Bishop’s Stortford in Hertfordshire, because they will severely interfere with the Hertfordshire Way long-distance footpath.(1)
The governors of the Bishop’s Stortford and Herts & Essex High Schools want to move the two schools to the Whittington Way site. Their application to East Herts Council is similar to one they submitted in 2008, which they withdrew in the face of strong opposition from local people and national and local organisations.
Says Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary: ‘We opposed the plan in 2008, and we oppose it now. It will destroy people’s enjoyment of the Hertfordshire Way which crosses the site. This footpath is one of Hertfordshire’s gems.
‘The path will be squeezed between the car park and dropping-off point for school coaches on one side, and the new buildings on the other. It will be closed in by fences, with crossing points for vehicles. This pleasant, open, country walk will become an urban tunnel where walkers must watch out for vehicles. This will be a black spot on this long-distance path, which should be the pride of Hertfordshire.’
‘The applicants have employed planning and urban design consultants, Vincent and Gorbing, to make their case. But these experts have admitted that the development will have “a direct impact on the Hertfordshire Way”, that “the character of the path will inevitably change” and that “the proposed buildings within the building area will have a significant impact on the character of the footpath and on views from the footpath”. That is the view of professionals, and it’s pretty damning.
‘Nothing has changed since 2008, except that green countryside and recreational footpaths have become even more precious. We urge the council to reject this application which is widely condemned, by local people and organisations,’ Kate concludes.
1. The Hertfordshire Way is a 190-mile circular route through Hertfordshire, starting at Royston. It was created to mark the Ramblers’ Association’s silver jubilee in 1995 and was opened in 1998.