Durand’s ‘stark and incongruous’ temporary buildings are rejected at St Cuthmans

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Plans for temporary classrooms and a boarding house at the Durand Academy’s weekly boarding school in Stedham were thrown out by the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) today (Thursday, November 10).

Planning committee members said with little evidence of a long term masterplan, they were concerned about allowing ‘utilitarian’ temporary buildings in a sensitive setting.

Durand wanted to demolish the listed Coach House and replace it with a two storey prefabricated boarding house. It also wanted to put two single storey teaching blocks on hard surface sports courts for 48 more pupils in years 9 to 11 for five years while longer term plans were developed

Three objectors to the proposal at the former St Cuthman’s School spoke, but there was no-one from Durand to support it.

Anne Reynolds for Woolbeding and Redford Parish Council said the plans ‘could lead to expansion in an ad hoc manner without a clear vision for the future of the site’.

For the St Cuthman’s Campaign Group Stephen McGairl said sports facilities and playing fields should not be built on, according to national planning policy and claimed the development was not sustainable. And chairman of Stedham with Iping Parish Council Eddie Lintott said if Durand had not demolished buildings five years ago, they would not be applying for new temporary ones now.

Doug Jones echoed the sentiments of other SDNPA members when he said: “Even if these buildings are only temporary, they clearly have an unacceptable impact on the landscape. There is too much uncertainty to justify demolishing the listed Coach House. There needs to be a clear masterplan.”

Alan Alesbury said there were aspects which were ‘meritorious and worthy of support,’ but ‘temporary’ had a very elastic meaning. “Think back to your own school days when buildings intended to be temporary lasted for decades.” He said Durand’s proposed prefabs were ‘stark and incongruous’ in the park setting.

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