DESPITE strong opposition, plans for a new boarding block at Harefield Academy were approved by councillors last night (Tuesday).

Residents of Northwood Road, Harefield, supported by the Tenants and Residents Association, had made a last minute attempt to get the meeting deferred on the basis they felt they had not been consulted properly.

This was disputed by representatives from Harefield Academy who said they had held a public exhibition which residents had been invited to, and the council's legal advisor commented that in this instance while full consultation is best practice, it was not in fact a statutory requirement.

Plans for the boarding block were unanimously approved by councillors, who conceded that while it was development on Green Belt land, it fitted criteria for 'special circumstances' on the basis it would be providing education to children, with the Academy targeting those from under-privileged backgrounds.

Lynn Gadd, principal of the Academy, said: "Boarding schools are increasingly popular and there is huge demand for the demand them across the country."

The plans are for a three-storey residential block for 50 students, and four full time staff, and one of the conditions of approval was the inclusion of a management plan of activities for the youngsters out of school time.

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