Park looks set to throw out Durand’s latest school plans

Durand Academy Executive Head Sir Greg Martin speaking to students SUS-141111-155708001
Durand Academy Executive Head Sir Greg Martin speaking to students SUS-141111-155708001

Plans from the Durand Academy to build temporary teaching and boarding facilities at the former St Cuthman’s School in Stedham are set to be thrown out by the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA).

The plans which would enable the school to increase to 135 students aged 13-16 with two more teachers, are due to go before the planning committee on Thursday, (November 10) with a recommendation for refusal from officers.

It is the latest set back from the academy which has struggled to gain planning permission to develop the school since it bought the site in 2010.

A controversial plan to build a 375 pupil school was refused by the SDNPA in December 2013, but the academy opened a free weekly boarding school on the site in September 2014 for 48 Year 9 pupils aged 13-14.

Last month the school faced more uncertainty when the Education Funding Agency (EFA) announced it was terminating the Durand Academy Trust’s funding agreement. The EFA said it had ‘serious concerns’ about the financial management and governance of the trust. In a letter to former executive head teacher Sir Greg Martin who chairs the governors EFA chief executive Peter Lauener said there had been ‘repeated and significant’ breaches of the terms of the funding agreement.

In their report today officers say: “The boarding accommodation and classrooms have been proposed in locations which would facilitate the implementation of the academy’s long term plans. These plans involve developing an estate plan and associated master plan for the site which would involve more comprehensive plans for providing modern permanent facilities alongside increasing the capacity.”

They said five years was a long time for temporary structures and they would have a detrimental impact on the landscape: “The proposals would also develop the site in the absence of definitive long terms plans, which are important in understanding the impacts of increasing student numbers and accommodating them in new permanent facilities.”

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