Ex-school site to be sold – but not for housing

LEWES: Exterior shot of the boarded-up former St Anne's School. 17-5-11
LEWES: Exterior shot of the boarded-up former St Anne's School. 17-5-11

The site of the former St Anne’s School, in Rotten Row, Lewes, is to be sold by East Sussex County Council – but for community use only.

It means that the site can not be used for housing development and any new owner must show how they can work with the current tenant, voluntary organisation 3VA.

The sale of the site was agreed this week by the Deputy Leader and lead member for community and resources, Keith Glazier.

Cllr Glazier said: “This is really good news and shows that we have listened to local people in Lewes and followed their wishes.

“The site will be put up for sale for community use only and we will seek bids that show how the site can continue to be used for the good of the community.

“As well as securing the future of this site for the community, the sale makes financial sense for all our Council Tax payers.

“The buildings aren’t fit for purpose and the backlog of repairs would cost in excess of £1m. Also the ongoing maintenance and security of this site costs about £100,000 per year so a sale would remove this ongoing liability.”

The site covers more than four acres and includes the former school buildings. The school was closed by the county council in 2005.

Since July 2011 the council has been working with the local community to consult on the future of the site. This resulted in the creation of the St Anne’s Steering Group which has been working on how the grounds could be used for community purposes.

The Steering Group enabled the council to enter into an initial one-year interim lease at nil rent to 3VA, which will manage the use of the grounds.

There was a six-week occupation of the St Anne’s site last year which ended when bailiffs evicted the protesters in a dawn raid. Activists had feared the site would be sold to developers for housing.