VOTE: Are you in favour of the proposal to open a school for disadvantaged children at Stedham?

Concerns have been voiced over £17m plans to open a ground-breaking school for disadvantaged children in the former St Cuthman’s School at Stedham.

More than 40 people attended a public meeting organised by Stedham with Iping Parish Council, to hear a presentation from one of the project leaders, executive head of the Durand Academy, Greg Martin. He outlined plans to open a unique boarding school for socially-disadvantaged children from South London.

Under the plan the children would leave Durand Primary school aged 13 and board four nights a week, free of charge, at St Cuthman’s, being bused in from London.

But Anne Reynolds, chairman of Woolbeding with Redford Parish Council, said it had emerged the academy had not had pre-planning consultations with West Sussex County Council, the highways authority, and she pointed out two of the three access roads had been deemed ‘unsuitable for heavy vehicles’. In addition there was a ‘dangerous’ entrance to the school on the blind S-bend of Linch Road.

Mrs Reynolds said her parish councillors were ‘broadly supportive’ of the aims of the academy, but added: “We believe the St Cuthman’s site is totally unsuitable for a school of the proposed size.”

The parish council believed the proposal would ‘substantially increase traffic movements which will be harmful to highway safety and will affect the living conditions of local residents’.

Chairman of Stedham with Iping Parish Council Chris Morgan, said his council had not yet discussed the plan. “I think we are generally in favour, but we do have reservations about the logistics of making it work regarding traffic and access and also concerning the new buildings.” He said there had been no planning application submitted yet ‘and we would hope for a lot more consultation before we get to a planning decision’.