Saffron Academy Trust chairman laments loss of Walden School after sale to developer

PUBLISHED: 08:44 04 May 2018 | UPDATED: 08:44 04 May 2018

Walden School could close, putting its sports facilities under threat too. Picture: SAFFRON PHOTO

Walden School could close, putting its sports facilities under threat too. Picture: SAFFRON PHOTO

Archant

The chairman of Saffron Academy Trust said the sale of Walden School to developers was a “very sad loss” after efforts to secure the site for use within the state sector failed.

The chairman of Saffron Academy Trust said the sale of Walden School to developers was a “very sad loss” after efforts to secure the site for use within the state sector failed.

The trust was formed when its founder school Saffron Walden County High converted to academy status.

Mark Hayes said: “The fate of the Walden School site was probably sealed when, in July last year, the Department for Education decided not to proceed with plans to acquire it.

“When it became clear that Walden School could not remain open, Saffron Academy Trust brought together various parties in order to explore the possibility of securing the site and buildings for use within the state sector.

“Plans moved forward on the basis that the infant/junior school and associated classroom blocks would be used for Saffron Primary School (the new Free School which will be run by Saffron Academy Trust) and the main buildings would provide an annexe for Saffron Walden County High, in advance of potentially being used as the core for a new secondary school which will undoubtedly be needed at a future date.

“There was support for these proposals both within Essex County Council and central government. We believe that at the time the June general election was called, heads of terms had been agreed in principle between the trustees of Walden School and representatives of the Department of Education.”

Mr Hayes said the general election presented a barrier as it’s “a time when decision making stops and there is no guarantee that policies and budgets will survive post-election”.

He said the general election was “particularly disastrous for Saffron Walden” due to the reduction in budget for free schools and the trustees and senior management at Walden School were put in an “impossible position”.

Mr Hayes said: “The new Saffron Primary School will now be built on a Section 106 planning gain site, accessed from Radwinter Road.

“We hope that Uttlesford District Council, in negotiating the terms for any planning consent to develop Walden School, will endeavour to secure the maximum community benefit as part of this process, particularly in terms of retaining sports and playing field facilities.

“In this they will be helped by the covenant covering the site.”

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