Newport Free Grammar School could be rebuilt in new homes plan

PUBLISHED: 08:50 26 January 2012

Newport Free Grammar School

Newport Free Grammar School

Archant

NEWPORT Free Grammar school could be rebuilt as part of a wider plan to construct up to 300 homes, a convenience store and a possible care home in the village.

Clavering-based developer Pelham Structures – which is also behind Stansted’s long-awaited health centre – proposed the “once in a lifetime opportunity” at a parish council meeting last week and put forward three different options.

The first and second involved moving all of the school’s buildings to the north of Bury Water Lane, rather than both sides as they are now. One option would be to rebuild the structures – with the exception of the admin office which is a listed building – on the south side of the lane, whereas a second would be to rebuild the whole school from scratch with the exception of the existing gymnasium and sixth form buildings, which would be kept as they are.

A third idea is to build a new secondary school adjacent to the current primary school. According to the developer, it could take about two years to construct, and include a link road. There would also be the possibility of adding commercial units along the road. Once complete, the existing secondary school would be knocked down to make way for up to 300 houses, a care home and retail space.

Chairman of Newport Parish Council, Andrew Yarwood, said it was up to school bosses to make a decision on what they wanted to do and added that the outcome would hold the key to whether the development went ahead.

“The developer would need agreement from landowners and also to see if the school was happy for the plans to go-ahead,” he said.

“Proposals being put together are still in the early stages but once more details are available the plans will be discussed thoroughly by the parish council.”

In a joint statement, headteacher Sean O’Hagan and chair of governors Paul Gray refused to rule out the possibility of the school being rebuilt.

“It is not for the school to take a view about overall development proposals for the village. But, given our responsibility to ensure the best possible provision and environment for our students, we would naturally want to explore ideas put to us that could enhance the school’s facilities as part of any scheme that was approved for the wider Newport community,” it said.

Bill Bampton, director of Pelham Structures, said: “We are working together with the parish council and local community to put together a proposal that benefits the whole of Newport. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for people in the village to get exactly what they want.

“We have three options that we have put forward and are currently in discussions about what will be best for all concerned.”

The firm hopes to agree a final proposal in February before submitting it for consideration in the district plan before the end of the year.

● WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE PLANS? E-mail sam.tonkin@archant.co.uk

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