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Garston Manor School plans recommended for approval
Plans to rebuild Garston special needs school have been recommended for approval despite being in the green belt.
Watford planning officials said the usual planning restrictions should not be applied to the redevelopment of Garston Manor School due the special circumstances surrounding the project.
Politicians on the council’s development control committee are due to be decided on the application to completely rebuild the school, in Horseshoe Lane, on Thursday.
The school, which caters for 120 students with special educational needs, is one of 42 schools being rebuilt as part of the Government’s Priority Schools Building Programme.
In a report to the committee planning officers said: "The proposed new school building will constitute inappropriate development in the green belt and is therefore, by definition, harmful to the green belt. However, in this case, it is considered that very special circumstances exist to allow the proposal to be approved.
"It will provide a specialist school for children with special educational needs that will replace the existing school and meet all the current standards for a school of this nature and size.
"This will be a very significant benefit to the town and the area of wider south west Hertfordshire, which the school serves. The layout of the site and the siting and design of the building have also been designed to minimise any impact on the openness of the green belt."
The school is due to undergo a complete rebuild and a new building will be constructed first to allow the school to function while the project is underway.
There is no proposed increase in the number of pupils as part of the rebuild.
Planning officials said part of the school’s playing field would be built on as part of the project.
The report said: "Although part of the southern playing field will be lost to accommodate the new building, the actual impact on the outdoor pitches is limited due to the varying topography of this part of the site.
"Overall, the sports facilities within the site are to be improved through the provision of a new (multi-use games area) and multi-use hall and Sport England have raise no objections to the proposal."
Councillors have also been told that the new layout will help ease problems on the roads around the school.
The report added: "The proposal will also address existing problems, congestion and vehicle pedestrian conflicts within the site, which also have an adverse impact on the adjacent highway and access to adjoining school sites."
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