December 12 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
A former middle school building has been sold by Suffolk County Council for £1.2million to an independent trust set up by a Christian church group.
A spokesman for the local authority confirmed that the sale of Stoke by Nayland Middle School to the Focus Learning Trust – established on behalf of the Plymouth Brethren Christian church – had now gone through.
The deal included the school building, grounds and £60,000 worth of furnishings and fittings.
The county has retained two cottages on the site, which it plans to make available through a social housing authority for the next three years.
The parish council and local charities including the Lady Ann Windsor Trust will then have a chance to acquire the properties for social housing purposes.
Stoke by Nayland Middle School is one of 40 Suffolk schools which closed in July as part of the county-wide school organisation review (SOR).
In March, the Plymouth Brethren Christian church, also known as the Exclusive Brethren, put in an offer for the school site, which includes nine acres of land.
Last night, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for finance and property, Colin Noble, told the EADT: “The sale of the site to the Focus Learning Trust is now complete and they are already working to reopen the building as a school.
“We have retained ownership of two cottages on the land, which we plan to make available for social housing.
“When a school site becomes surplus to the county council’s requirements, it’s important that we secure the best value for money from any sale or ensure sustainable community use for years to come.
“We believe that the best solution for this site has been found.”
The Seckford Foundation, which runs Beccles and Saxmundham Free Schools, put in a bid to open a free school at Stoke by Nayland, but withdrew after plans were refused by the Government.
The Plymouth Brethren church dates back to the early 19th Century and its members run about 100 schools worldwide, including 45 in the UK.
It is believed that two of the church’s other schools – one in Ipswich and another in Colchester – will be amalgamated on the Stoke by Nayland site, which will open as a day school next month for up to 200 pupils aged from three to 13 years.
Last night, no-one from the Plymouth Brethren church was available to comment on the purchase of the school.
Local county councillor James Finch said he was delighted that the village was able to retain a school, which would boost the local economy.