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New school to be built on land of old Royal Mail depot in Ascot Road
A new school, hoped to help plug a hole in primary places in Watford, will be built on land in the west of the town.
Hertfordshire County Council agreed today to secure the land on the old Royal Mail depot in Ascot Road.
Supermarket Morrisons is already in advanced negotiations to build a new store on the site and has allowed space for a new school.
Frances Button, portfolio holder for education and skills, said the council hoped to go forward with the plans, but was prepared to forcible buy the land using a compulsory purchase order.
She said: "There is significant pressure on primary school places in Watford.
"The most recent forecast shows there is a six forms of entry shortfall by 2016. There is a concentration in central Watford and increasing pressure in the west.
"This site is ideally placed for a two form of entry primary school. If we don’t acquire this site we could lose the opportunity to provide primary places locally."
The new school is expected to be either an academy or a free school and the council has already commissioned the Hertfordshire Free School Trust Company to submit a bid to the Department for Education.
Councilor Button added: "We expect and very much hope this will be successful."
Current admission forecasts predict that by September 2015, close to 200 children in Watford could be without a primary place unless new schools are built.
The largest crush for places is in central Watford, but education officers said there was also a shortage developing in the north and west areas of the town.
Due to the increase in demand six schools - Cassiobury Infants, Cassiobury Junior, Beechfield, Cherry Tree Primary, Holywell Primary and St Anthony’s Primary - have all agreed to expand permanently.
But officers said expanding existing schools will not cover the shortfall and the council is looking at a number of locations in Watford that could be suitable for new primary schools.
The Ascot Road depot has been indentified as one such site - as long as a detached playing field can be found.
Applications for parties interested in setting up the new Ascot Road school will have to be submitted by December.
The report said the cost of building the new school on the site would be in the region of £6 million and it would cost around £1.1 million to acquire the land.