New pressure on planners for Petworth Boys School memorial

The current  memorial stone at the front of the former boys school site
The current memorial stone at the front of the former boys school site

Following the 75th anniversary commemorations to honour those who died in the Petworth Boys School bombing, town councillors are anxious to press ahead with plans for a new permanent memorial.

New houses are now being built on the site of the old school and currently there is only a memorial stone on the road to mark the school and this is to be moved to make way for an access.

There was anger among town councillors earlier this year when they accused the developer of trying to ‘wriggle out’ of a planning condition requiring him to provide a piece of public art as a permanent memorial alongside the current stone and plaque.

It was sparked by an attempt bv Towerview Developments to have the condition removed. This was withdrawn but another application was made to change the wording of the condition so that artwork could be agreed before the new homes were occupied rather than before building started.

Joe Gormley, owner of Towerview strongly denied he was avoiding the issue pointing out he had offered finance.

A meeting was held with planning officers at Chichester District Council (CDC) at which it was agreed CDC would ensure planning conditions were carried out.

“We are now three months down the line,” said chairman of the town council Chris Kemp “new houses are being built on the site. We have been blanked by officers at CDC and at the national park and we don’t know what is happening.”

Members of the town council’s open spaces committee have now agreed to look for a way forward of taking over the project.

“We are writing to CDC telling them we are dissatisfied with the progress they are making and saying we want to take the lead,” said Chris.

“Before the 75th anniversary event we were told the survivors and the bereaved families did not want a memorial. But during the commemoration I had conversations with bereaved families and I heard the opposite view. They are very concerned and feel strongly something should happen and we have got to keep the pressure up on CDC - they cannot just ignore us.”

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