A much-needed replacement primary school for Etchingham has taken a major step forward after Rother District Council approved the plans.
The replacement school, to be funded by East Sussex County Council, is part of a wider development to include new community facilities to replace the existing village hall and new homes.
East Sussex County Council, the Diocese of Chichester, Etchingham Parish Council and Etchingham Trust for Sports and Recreation have been working in partnership with the landowner and their appointed developer, Millwood Designer Homes Limited, to create the mixed development on land known locally as the Lambing Field.
The proposed school with community facilities, which it is hoped will be open by September 2014, will be located in the front of the field immediately to the west of the village.
The scheme includes pedestrian access to the High Street to ensure the site is safely connected to the village.
Last year, the County Council approved more than £5 million in its capital programme, part of its £500m budget for growth, to replace the village’s Victorian school buildings. The Parish Council, with the landowner, is contributing to the replacement of the village hall.
Members of the District Council’s planning committee unanimously approved the scheme with certain conditions that will now be addressed. Keith Glazier, County deputy leader, said: “This is very good news. We will work closely with the Parish Council to make this work and I am confident we will be able to provide the village with a state-of-the-art school and community facility fit for 21st century learning.
“We have worked hard with our partners to make this happen and we’ve had the support of the local community.
“It’s a major development for Etchingham and the new school, village hall and housing will mark a new chapter in the village’s history.”
This is the second piece of good news for the village. After 150 years and severe flooding, in 2000 the shop and post office, formerly housing the telephone exchange, closed.
Unhappy about this, residents organised a public meeting, raised funds and bought shares in the Ethcingham Community Shop Association enabling the business to be re-opened last June.