VOTE: Are you in favour of the plan for a field centre?

Plans to turn Whiphill Farmhouse in Lamberts Lane at Midhurst into a field centre for students from United Learning Trust (ULT) academies all over the country have been welcomed by town councillors.

ULT, the largest sponsor of academies in the country and the name behind Midhust Rother College, wants to convert the Victorian house into a centre providing residential and teaching accommodation for students mainly from inner-city schools.

Looking at the proposals on Monday night Steve Morley told fellow members of the planning committee: “I am absolutely for this plan, but I think as a money-making venture it should be open to all schools, not just the ULT.”

John Quilter said he would like assurances that parking provision was adequate, adding: “As far as the development is concerned it’s good, the conversion is good and the access arrangements are good.”

Submitting their application to Chichester District Council, ULT said conversion of the farmhouse, adjoining agricultural buildings and stables was acknowledged as a ‘positive measure to provide youth facilities in the future’ in the planning approval for the new £31m school which is currently being built on the River Site next door to the farmhouse.

The agricultural buildings and stables around the farmhouse were granted planning permission last year to be extended and converted into a new £700,000 youth centre.

Guildford-based planning experts for ULT, Synergy, said their development brief was to bring Whiphill Farmhouse back into a sound condition and good repair suitable for its proposed use for many years to come.

Access to the farmhouse, said the design statement, would be controlled and through the grounds of Midhurst Rother College.

The current access being used by contractors is over the original farm track from Lamberts Lane. But Synergy said this would be removed when building works were complete.

Parking provision of vehicles and bicycles at Whiphill Farmhouse will share those provided at the new school.

John Holwill, consultant for Synergy, said the college plans provided on-site parking for 150 cars including seven disabled spaces, 138 cycles and ten school bus bays.

For the full story see the Midhurst and Petworth Observer, out today (Thursday, April 12).