Plans for a children’s centre in Essendon approved

DESPITE 166 letters of complaint, a planning application for a children’s centre on a school sports field has been approved.

The hub, to be based in the grounds of Essendon Primary School, was given the green light by Hertfordshire County Council’s development control committee.

Concerns for the impact on the School Lane playing field and the land’s Green Belt status were among the reservations given by the objectors.

These, and fears the detached single storey structure would not fit in with the school’s main Grade II-listed 1947 building, were played down at last Tuesday’s committee meeting.

Sue Davidson, head of the county development unit, said: “It would complement the main building rather than match it entirely.

“The children’s centre [to be run by Central Herts YMCA and is part of the government Sure Start project] would be a contemporary contrasting design.

“It is considered the size, sitting and appearance of the building would not have an adverse effect on the character and appearance of the setting of the Grade II school building or adversely impact upon the public and private space.”

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Of the Green Belt, Mrs Davidson added: “The proposal does not conflict with development plan policy and it has been demonstrated that very special circumstances outweigh the harm and inappropriateness within the Green Belt.”

The plans were approved, subject to a number of conditions, such as car parking, hours of operation and a green travel plan.

Essensdon Primary school headteacher, Rod Woodhouse, said he was delighted the children’s centre plan was given the thumbs up.

He said: “[We are] naturally pleased the application has been unanimously approved by the committee.

“This a small building, which will serve as an administrative base for Great Woods children’s centre, as well as delivering services to the local community of Essendon.

“The specific siting of the building is one proposed by the school and approved by Sport England.

“We look forward to working with Central Herts YMCA.”