Government intervenes in Hatfield special needs school move

A DECISION to temporarily relocate a special needs school in order to build the Hatfield incinerator has tonight (Tuesday) been halted by the Government.

On the same day Hertfordshire County Council’s development control committee approved plans to move Southfield School in Travellers Lane – before a final decision on the incinerator has been made – a letter sent on behalf of Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, was received by the council.

In another dramatic twist in the on-going incinerator saga, the letter refuses the council permission to grant the Southfield application “without specific authorisation”.

The letter, seen by the Welwyn Hatfield Times, is addressed to the council’s principle planning officer Chay Dempster from Dave Jones, writing on behalf of Mr Pickles.

It reads: “In exercise of his powers under Article 25 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) Order 2010, the Secretary of State hereby directs your Council not to grant this application without specific authorisation.

“This direction is issued to enable him to consider whether he should direct under section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 that the application should be referred to him for determination.”

The letter also calls for all details of the proposals and associated plans and documents be sent to the Secretary of State’s office “as soon as possible”.

Most Read

The plan to relocate Southfield to the former Howe Dell School playing fields in Woods Lane for five years was approved by councillors this afternoon.

They argued that moving the school now would remove staff and students’ anxiety over Veolia Environmental Services’ plans to build a 380,000-tonne waste burner at the neighbouring New Barnfield site.

Anti-incinerator campaigners believe already agreeing to move Southfield makes the decision on the incinerator a foregone conclusion.

But tonight, those same campaigners were rejoicing at the Government’s intervention.

Paul Zukowskyj, who earlier today had seen his plea for councillors to turn down the proposal go unheeded, said: “It’s just brilliant.

“Hertfordshire County Council are trying to do things the wrong way, and this is justification of all that.

“I’m much more hopeful that this planning application will be looked at and assessed properly, and we’ll get the right result, which is refusal.

“It means it is no longer up to the county council to decide if this goes ahead, as it should be in planning terms.

“The Secretary of State is absolutely right to take it out of their [the council’s] hands.”