'Concerned' Potters Bar MP calls for meeting over lack of school places

PUBLISHED: 15:53 23 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:25 23 May 2018

Potters Bar MP Oliver Dowden. Picture: Supplied.

Potters Bar MP Oliver Dowden. Picture: Supplied.

Archant

The MP for Potters Bar has called for a meeting with the council to kick start it into creating more school places.

MP for Hertsmere Oliver Dowden has written to Hertfordshire County Council to call a meeting to discuss sites for new schools in Hertsmere.

He sent the letter as Hertsmere Borough Council is currently updating its Local Plan.

Mr Dowden said: “It’s the document that will shape development in our area over the coming decades so it is crucial that if we build new homes that the character of the area is preserved and that they are matched by the right infrastructure, including good school places.”

Mr Dowden, who has been campaigning for better local state education, said he is “concerned” that there has been little progress towards identifying suitable sites for new schools.

In the letter he asks if a meeting can be held with the borough council and county council in the same room in a bid to “move this process forward”.

The division of local government responsibilities means that Hertfordshire County Council is in charge of approving plans for new schools, while Hertsmere Borough Council must find the sites for them in the Local Plan.

The Local Plan Update is an ongoing process and the council is examining a wide range of options to meet the Government’s targets for house building.

In September last year, the council published its ‘Issues and Options Report’ which set out its first ideas, including a new garden village, urban extensions and brownfield development.

Mr Dowden added: “How we meet the needs of a growing community is one of the biggest challenges we face here in Hertsmere.

“I constantly stress that while we must provide homes for the next generation, we must also make sure that we keep what makes our area special.

“Our green open spaces are essential to preserving our borough’s town and villages, creating distinct communities and preventing ugly urban sprawl.”

Mr Dowden also expressed how “strongly” he feels about residents engaging with the Local Plan consultation.

He said: “It is one of the main ways for the council to understand people’s views and has a real impact on the final shape of the plans. If you don’t express your views now it will be much harder to do so later.”

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