Councillors are attempting to "block" a decision to sell land that was formerly home to a primary school.

A housing developer is interested in buying the old Meriden School site but local politicians believe it should be retained for community use.

On April 25, Hertfordshire County Council's Cabinet committee gave the green light for the council to "dispose" - or sell off - the land it owns in Harvest End on the Meriden estate.

Read more: Former school land moves step closer to being sold off

Herts Living Ltd, a real estate standalone company of the council, is reportedly interested in the site and has submitted plans to Watford Borough Council to build nine homes, accessed via The Meadows.

Watford Observer: Screenshot of a CGI of how the Meriden site could be redeveloped (shown left). Credit: Herts Living Ltd via Watford Borough Council planning portalScreenshot of a CGI of how the Meriden site could be redeveloped (shown left). Credit: Herts Living Ltd via Watford Borough Council planning portal

But local Liberal Democrats say a masterplan approved in 2007 for this site stated the eastern part should be kept for community use.

They feel the council's Conservative Cabinet have "failed" to consider this masterplan in their decision and have therefore "called-in" the decision.

A poster from the councillors says: "We have used a special council procedure to call the decision in for review saying all the facts about retaining the land for community use have not been made public."

The councillors' concerns will be considered by the council's overview and scrutiny committee at a meeting on May 16.

Ahead of that meeting, council officers have responded to some of the Lib Dems' concerns in papers published ahead of the meeting.

Acknowledging the 2007 masterplan, officers say plans for a GP surgery went ahead but the Jehovah's Witnesses decided not to pursue building a place of worship.

Watford Observer: The GP surgery that was built, that is situated next door to the land which the council is set to 'dispose' of. Credit: Google MapsThe GP surgery that was built, that is situated next door to the land which the council is set to 'dispose' of. Credit: Google Maps

But officers' biggest argument is the masterplan has been "superseded" by Lib Dem-run Watford Borough Council's emerging Local Plan, which earmarks this land, which shut as a school in 2004, for housing.

The papers state: "Watford Borough Council issued a positive planning pre-application response to Herts Living Ltd in September 2021 to the proposed scheme of nine dwelling houses being delivered on the site.

"A detailed planning application was submitted by Herts Living Ltd in January 2022 and the decision is due imminently and expected to receive approval.

"The proposal will meet or exceed the emerging policy requirements in the final draft local plan. This therefore supersedes the previous illustrative plan and does not therefore constitute a breach of the agreed masterplan."

The former playing fields of Meriden School, which are also owned by the council, does not form part of the land being disposed, but councillors have suggested green open space that does could form an "extension" to Meriden Park.