Playing fields once part of a Letchworth school could now be sold off county councillors decide

By Deborah Price - Local Democracy Reporter

21st Feb 2024 | Local News

Norton School. CREDIT: Norton School Facebook page.
Norton School. CREDIT: Norton School Facebook page.

Playing fields that were once part of a Letchworth Garden City school could now be sold off, following a decision by county councillors.

The two plots – once part of Norton School – already have outline planning permission for residential development.

At a meeting of the county council's cabinet agreed that the land could be declared surplus – opening the way for the future sale of the land.

However, only one of the sites – to the south of Croft Lane – is owned freehold by the county council.

The second site – on Cashio Lane – is owned by the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, with the county council having a leasehold interest. 

At the meeting it was reported to councillors that the council owned site, on Croft Lane, had outline planning permission for 43 homes, subject to a Section 106 agreement.

It is understood that estimates have suggested that site could be sold for more than £4m. But it has not been earmarked for disposal until June 2025.

Meanwhile the Cashio Lane site has outline planning permission for 45 homes, subject to section 106 agreement.

Should that land be sold for development it was reported that the county council would receive a capital receipt – linked to the value of the site – by relinquishing their leases.

It is also understood that the split would be 50:50 between the two organisations, with estimates suggesting the land could sell for up to £3.4m.

A third site – once occupied by the school buildings and playground – has already been sold and developed for housing.

At the meeting executive member for resources and performance Cllr Bob Deering reported that some concerns had been expressed.

A local county councillor had expressed "some reservations" about the proposal at a meeting of the resources and performance cabinet panel, also saying that one member had voted against the proposal.

"It wasn't quite unanimous," he said. "There was one member of the panel that voted against this – but otherwise everybody voted in favour.

"It is right to note that this site is approved for development as part of district authority local plan.

"So with all due respect to the local member and the member of my panel that did vote against, it's understandable that every body else voted in favour."

Both of the playing field sites are allocated for housing in the North Herts District Council Local Plan, which was adopted in November 2022.


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