Councillors call to make Walden School listed building as part of final rescue effort
PUBLISHED: 06:00 16 August 2017
Saffron Walden Town Council has passed a proposal to ask whether Historic England would consider listing the building of Walden School.
In a final attempt to salvage the site, councillors voted unanimously in favour of the motion at an extraordinary meeting on August 10.
Councillor Mike Hibbs, who said he had discussed the matter with Douglas Kent, of The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, told the chamber: “What is important is to ensure that nobody can step in and demolish the school which, albeit they should get consent for because it’s in a conservation area, but that has happened before.
“There is a very fine swimming pool which is believed to be the first swimming pool constructed within a school in this country and of considerable value to the public, but it might not be of any value to the developer.
“This sort of thing is what we would be concerned about and we strongly recommend that we should go for listing the building.”
Other councillors agreed.
Councillor Sam Goddard added: “I have from the beginning been in favour of listing the school.
“First of all I think it will make it more difficult to develop the whole site which is something we want to stay as being for education or recreation use. We’ve also just got a duty to protect what is a significant building in the town.”
Walden School, previously known as Friends’ School, was originally founded in 1702 in Clerkenwell before moving to Saffron Walden in 1879.
This year the independent day and boarding school, which has 280 pupils and employs 140 staff, announced it would be closing amid economic downturn and a highly-competitive local market.
In a recent statement, the administrators of Walden School, Grant Thornton UK LLP, said its facilities, however, are still of interest.
A spokesman said: “The administrators are in active discussions with representatives of community groups who are interested in continuing to use the school’s facilities. There are a number of matters to finalise, including insurance, security and site access. These are being worked through as quickly as possible.
“It is exam result season and the administrators have put procedures in place to ensure pupils receive their A-level results this week and GCSE results later in the month.
“As part of the normal administration process, the administrators will be providing their proposals to creditors of the school in the coming weeks.”