Developers accused of trying to ‘wriggle out’ of memorial to Petworth Boys School bombing

Don Simpson with the existing memorial stone
Don Simpson with the existing memorial stone
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Developers have been accused of trying to ‘wriggle out’ of an obligation to honour those who were killed in the bombing of Petworth Boys School, 75 years ago.

Towerview Properties were given permission to build 21 homes partly on the site of the former school despite strong objections from those who remembered the bombing and who called the plan ‘desecration’.

And they caused outrage when they recently tried to have a planning condition removed which required them to provide a piece of public art as a permanent commemoration to sit alongside the existing memorial stone.

Towerview withdrew the application in the face of mounting anger and are now talking to town councillors.

But chairman Chris Kemp told a meeting last night (Wednesday, April 19): “They are trying to argue that moving the memorial stone and planting a few flowers constitutes a piece of public art to commemorate this tragedy.

“The deaths of 29 boys, 75 years ago is something the developers cannot sweep under the carpet. I feel very strongly about this and I believe those who remember the tragedy would find it abhorrent if we didn’t fight. We are not going to let them wriggle out of this.”

He said Towerview had been allowed to drop the affordable homes element of its original plans: “They had to pay £80,000 in developers contributions for the privilege and we would like to see some of that paying for a suitable piece of commemorative art honouring those who died.”

Mr Kemp added: “They are trying to get away with doing as little as they can, but their feed road will be right over the top of the boys school and they cannot get away with just planting a box of pansies.”

He suggested a commemoration consisting of the silhouette of children around the memorial stone in a special flower bed.

Town councillors have agreed to go back and demand a suitable sculpture.

88 year old Don Simpson who was a boy at the school when it was bombed, said: “I would be very angry if they didn’t provide something . They haven’t taken into account the sensitivity of the site - they are developers and any way they can get round things they will try. They don’t seem to have any regard for the importance of the site.”

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