Chichester school applies to replace and relocate fire damaged pavilion one year after arson attack left football team with nothing

“We were very sad to lose our pavilion last year and have been working hard to put together plans for a new building that will serve not only the school better, but also the local community."

Thursday, 14th May 2020, 7:16 pm
Updated Thursday, 14th May 2020, 7:18 pm
Staff and pupils at The Prebendal School, by the remains of the pavilion last year. Photo: Kate Shemilt. ks190288-3

That was the message from the headteacher of The Prebendal School in Chichester which has requested planning permission to replace and relocate its 53-year-old pavilion, which was razed to the ground by arsonists on May 27 last year.

Chichester's oldest youth football team, Whyke United, used the pavilion to store goals, footballs, training poles and other equipment which was all destroyed in the blaze. Three days after the fire, 'opportunist' thieves stolen from the devastated football team. Read more hereNearly one year on, the school, in West Street, has now applied to build a 'larger, more purposeful pavilion'.

Headteacher Louise Salmond Smith said the new building will enable the grounds to be used to 'greater effect' by Whyke United and for other local organisations 'who wish to use our facilities for the benefit of their members'.

Vicky Tucker, who helps run Whyke United with husband and club secretary Martin, asked people to support the application 'so we have got a new home'. Pictured is the club's under 9s team

She added: "I am most grateful to our architects, Fiftypointeight, for working so thoughtfully to create a space that will do all of those things, yet blend in sensitively with the historic location.”

Vicky Tucker, who helps run Whyke United with husband and club secretary Martin, asked people to support the application 'so we have got a new home'.

She added: "Obviously there's no football at the moment [due to coronavirus], so it's really tough. We are just trying to keep going.

"We did loads of fundraising and different activities to try to raise some funds. The local community really helped us out to get us back on our feet and get going.

Vicky said lockdown has left Whyke United in 'limbo'. Pictured is the club's under 13s team who were Division C cup finalists

"We were trying to get more events going and then this happened. Up until lockdown happened, we were still using the field and had a container to use as storage.

"That was all really positive and we replaced a load of the equipment which was damaged either through donations or some of the money that we had kindly been given."

Vicky said lockdown has left the club in 'limbo', adding: "We are just waiting on the latest information.

"We have kept our club Facebook page open for members and we're keeping that updated every week.

Mark Chapman burser at The Prebendal School, right, and Andy Saint, groundsman by the remains of the pavilion last year. Photo: Kate Shemilt ks190288-2

"Some of the children have been doing the toilet roll challenge and all sorts of drills. Apart from that, there's not really anything we can do.

"It's sad for some of the players as they were due to be in cup finals this year."

According to the planning documents, submitted to Chichester District Council, the proposed use of the site remains unchanged and 'in keeping with its setting', with no loss of amenity for the surrounding uses. However, it is proposed that the location of the pavilion be relocated from the existing location in the north east corner of the site to the north west corner.

The school said this was to move the pavilion away from the view of Chichester Cathedral from Avenue de Chartres and for security purposes.

The application read: "There will be no impact on the playing pitches for which the pavilion serves. The pavilion remains ancillary to the main use of the playing fields.

"The proposed location is closer to the existing car park serving the playing fields. The proposed location is closer to the public footpath and the Avenue de Chartres and therefore will be less prone to vandalism; the existing pavilion has suffered extensive damage over its lifetime.

"The proposed pavilion will provide a significantly improved facility in keeping with current standards and accessible to all users in comparison with the existing pavilion."

The application has so far received seven official comments of support and no objections.

You can read and comment on the application on the Chichester District Council website using the reference number, 20/00970/FUL.

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