Developers unveil plan to build 150 houses on Walden School site

Walden School, formerly Friends' School, in Saffron Walden.

Walden School, formerly Friends' School, in Saffron Walden. - Credit: Archant

Developers have unveiled plans to build 150 homes on the former Walden School site in Saffron Walden.

Chase New Homes presented Saffron Walden Town Council with its initial plans for the site at a full council meeting yesterday (Monday).

Alan Ward, planning and design director at Chase New Homes, who bought the land in April, emphasised that the plans were in their early stages and feedback would be welcome.

“We are fully aware of how important this site is to the community,” Mr Ward said. “We are fully aware of the history of the school.”

The developers presented some of their previous projects to councillors, which included sites in conservation areas and conversions of listed buildings.

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Mr Ward showed councillors how the company had transformed Danbury Palace in Chelmsford, a Grade II listed building which ceased operation as a school in 2004, into a mixture of new build homes and apartments.

On the former Walden School site, Chase New Homes plan to build 150 new houses and add sports facilities which, it says, can be used by the community.

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The developer said it had been in touch with local sports clubs to try and understand what is required.

Currently, the plans include a 4G rugby training pitch, a 200-metre running track, a mixed-use games area and a 100-metre grass running track.

The developer is also looking at keeping the school’s swimming pool and replacing changing rooms. Proposals also include a pavilion or clubhouse which could be used as a function room.

In keeping with the current development on the Walden School site, The Avenue, houses would be a traditional style, but Mr Ward said they were working on different designs.

Councillor Sharon Morris, who has been working with local sports clubs, said the plans for the sports facilities were not appropriate for what is needed in Saffron Walden.

“The running track is not appropriate and not adequate,” Cllr Morris said. “Your rugby pitch is not adequate for the rugby club.”

She also expressed concern that there was no room for cycling.

“My children were part of the WaldenTRI club and used the pool for their lessons,” she added. “Could you please come up with a better offer for sports facilities?”

Cllr Morris said the councillors needed a guarantee that the swimming pool would be opened back up to the community.

Mr Ward emphasised that the plans were at very early stages and the developers would take all feedback on board.

It was agreed by councillors that a full day planning consultation should be held when further proposals are put together by Chase New Homes so the plans can be adequately scrutinised and feedback can be given.

A notice board will be put up at the front of the site next week which will kick off the formal consultation process with residents and stakeholders.

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