Durand Academy appeal at Stedham is withdrawn

Durand Academy Executive Head Sir Greg Martin speaking to students SUS-141111-155708001
Durand Academy Executive Head Sir Greg Martin speaking to students SUS-141111-155708001

THE Durand Academy has withdrawn its appeal against the South Downs National Park Authority for planning permission at its free boarding school in Stedham.

The academy has backed out of the appeal regarding two planning applications at the former St Cuthman’s School in Stedham, to refurbish and develop the site. Durand had submitted a planning appeal to add extra buildings to the site in order to extend its capacity. The Department of Education had agreed to co-fund the development, subject to planning, up to the cost of £17.34 million.

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The planning appeal was lodged on June 12, 2014 and the listed building appeal on June 19, 2014.

The academy, based in Stockwell, south London, from November began transporting 48 students to the Stedham site, where they board three nights a week.

The public enquiry was scheduled to take place on February 10, 2015, and residents from villages including Woolbeding and Stedham campaigning against the school were on their way to raising the £80,000 needed for their appeal.

One of the leading campaigners against the expansion of the St Cuthman’s site, Dr Adrian Hearle, said of Durand’s withdrawal: “I am not sure what this means for their plans but will continue to press for answers on how this whole project has been managed and with significant costs to the tax payer.”

Durand pupils enjoy a taster menu of the food that will be on offer at the boarding school SUS-140608-101032001

Durand pupils enjoy a taster menu of the food that will be on offer at the boarding school SUS-140608-101032001

Tim Slaney, director of Planning for the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA), said: “We have been informed the Durand Academy has withdrawn their appeal against the SDNPA’s refusal of planning permission at St Cuthman’s School.

“All arrangements for the hearing have had to be cancelled at very late notice – on the eve of the pre-inquiry meeting.

“Both the SDNPA and the local community have devoted considerable time and effort to get to this stage.

“The withdrawal reflects the high quality of our original appraisal of this development and confirms our wider stance on major developments in the National Park. We are now moving to recover the considerable costs incurred to the public purse in preparing for this appeal.”

The planning application was refused at a meeting of the SDNPA’s planning committee on December 12, 2013.

The minutes of the meeting can be read at SDNPA planning minutes

The planning applications can be found on the SDNPA website under SDNP/13/01358/FUL and SDNP/13/01359/LIS.

A spokesman for the Durand Academy said: “We make no apology for basing our decision making on what we believe will deliver the best outcomes for the children in the shortest time – and as such we have decided to withdraw our appeal.

“The appeal was based on a planning application we submitted in October 2013 and we are confident that, now we are settled and operational on the site, we can rework the proposition effectively.

“The new Durand Academy Boarding School opened last month and the first cohort are already flourishing.

“This is our unwavering priority.

“We are pleased the planning authority recognises the need for the school, and when our planning application was refused last year officers acknowledged their judgement was ‘finely balanced’.

“So we want to take the opportunity now to work closely with the local community and planning authority, to adapt and rework the proposition going forward collaboratively.

“After just two months, this school is already making a difference.

“We look forward to seeing it flourish long into the future in its beautiful surroundings.”