Plans unveiled for boarding school in former St Cuthmans building

PROPOSALS for the Durand Academy in Stedham will ‘test’ the South Downs National Park’s ability to ‘protect the area’, according to a parish council chairman.

Concerned residents are holding a public public after the Durand Academy finally submitted its plans to turn the old St Cuthman’s School into a new boarding school for socially-disadvantaged children.

But Anne Reynolds, chairman of Woolbeding and Redford Parish Council said the application would be ‘a test case for the South Downs National Park’.

“If they allow this to go ahead it will question its ability to protect the park. It is of no benefit to the community,” she said.

“We are holding a meeting for all concerned local residents at 7.45pm on Wednesday, April 10, in Milland Village Hall.

“At this meeting, our planning and traffic consultants will explain the plans and highlight the likely impact on the local environment. It will help residents to understand the plans.”

The application comes after several years of planning for the school.The academy, which has a primary school in Stockwell, London, will use the Stedham site for up to 600 13 to 18 year olds who will board for four-nights a week.

The school is the first state primary school to open a boarding school to educate children free-of-charge.

The Durand Academy unveiled its plans at the end of June.

But concerns were raised by residents who worried about the traffic coming to and from the site.

Main concerns centred on the transportation of some 600 children to and from the site along country lanes and the scale of the buildings, reaching four storeys in some parts.

Executive head of the Durand Academy, Greg Martin said: “I absolutely understand that any new development brings with it questions and concerns.

“I want to reassure people that we have worked really hard following all of the conversations we had locally about the designs, to adapt the scheme to reflect feedback we received.

“We know that this school will change life opportunities for children but we also really want local residents to be proud of it and support it.

“We have robust financial planning in place, we have decades of experience in school design and development, and most importantly, we are passionate about and committed to outstanding educational delivery.”

The plans were submitted to South Downs National Park Authority and were validated on March 21.