Nacton: Homes only option for Amberfield School site

Amberfield School.

Amberfield School. - Credit: Archant

Experts say the only option for the former Amberfield School is to turn it into homes after extensive marketing failed to bring forward any other kind of development or use.

Proposals have been submitted to use the site of the former girls’ school for 22 new homes as part of a £14million project.

Suffolk Coastal councillors have agreed to visit the site at The Street, Nacton, and could reach a decision on its future as early as next month.

Planning and development consultants Bullworthy Shallish LLP said every effort had been made to attract a new use for the old school, which closed 18 months ago after financial problems suddenly came to a head.

The company said: “Following the entering into administration of the former school, the site was the subject of an extensive and intensive marketing campaign, the results of which confirmed that the only available or viable use for the site and buildings is residential.

“It is a wasted resource. It has a rundown appearance with the buildings and grounds having understandably deteriorated through their non-occupation and lack of day to day maintenance.

“It is a site that is in need of rejuvenation.”

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Planning officers are carrying out a detailed assessment of the potential conversion of the former Victorian workhouse into 12 apartments and houses, demolishing some of the modern extensions and buildings, and also constructing 10 new homes.

Amberfield School Educational Trust, Knight Developments Ltd and Michael Howard Homes submitted the plans.

Head of planning Philip Ridley said: “The key issues to be considered in relation to this application include the principle of the residential development of the site and the impact of the development on the existing trees and designated landscape.

“Other important considerations relate to the design and layout of the site, highway safety, wildlife and residential amenity.”

Using the site for homes would be a departure from council policy but national policy requires planning to proactively drive and support sustainable economic development.

Development could realise some sort of return for the many left out of pocket when the school collapsed.

The trust’s financial shortfall included a £1.3m debt to Barclays Bank, £200,000 outstanding to staff and £360,000 owed to other creditors.

The school’s former pupils included artist Maggi Hambling, Madeleine Gurdon, Baroness Lloyd Webber, and model Freya Holmes.