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1700s school building to be sold off

PUBLISHED: 16:37 26 June 2008 | UPDATED: 07:29 01 August 2010

WITH its chocolate-box looks, peaceful rural setting and hundreds of years of history, Seething and Mundham Primary School could not fail to inspire the generations of children who have passed through its classrooms.

WITH its chocolate-box looks, peaceful rural setting and hundreds of years of history, Seething and Mundham Primary School could not fail to inspire the generations of children who have passed through its classrooms.

But now the eighteenth century thatched building is due to be sold off as a house so that a state-of-the-art primary school can be built just a few hundred yards away.

The school was built in the mid-eighteenth century and events are recorded as early as 1874. Today the school has 77 pupils, who are taught both in the old school house and in three temporary mobile classrooms in the grounds.

A scheme to sell off the old building and use the money to pay for a new school at the other side of the same site was submitted in July 2004, but South Norfolk council's planning committee objected strongly to them, saying that the materials and designs were out of keeping with the setting, but now a new set of plans are being drawn up.

Seething parish clerk Alison Garrod said that a new set of plans is expected to be completed in the very near future. “We know that it entails the old thatched school building being sold off for residential use. They'll then need a new bit of land so that there's enough space for a new school and playing field,” she said.

John Fuller, the area's district councillor, said: “As a listed building, any change of use would have to preserve the beauty and character of the building.

“We need to make sure that the children get the best possible start in life, and if selling the old building contributes to a new school being built, then that is a good balance.”

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council confirmed that the old school house will be sold so that the money, along with funds from the council's capital building programme, can pay for a new modern school.

He said: “There are serious maintenance issues with the current buildings, and they are not suitable for educating children in the 21st century, even though many people will be sad to see the school move out.

“The proposal is for a new school further along the existing site. This is to be achieved through a land exchange which has been agreed in principle with the local landowner, including the sale of the old buildings at market value. Income from the sale will contribute to the cost of the new school, which will be around £1.5m.

“The new school will include three classrooms, a school hall and offices. If all the formal processes are completed, it is hoped to start work this financial year, so before the end of March '09. Detailed design work is continuing.”

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