Anger as council sells off former village school


David Powell

PLANS to demolish a former infants school and build 29 homes have been slammed by villagers.

Cheshire West and Chester (CWaC) have sold the now closed Ridings Community Infant School site on Greenway, Saughall, to property developers Morris Homes.

Now one group of residents are hoping that the controversial decision to sell the site can be reversed, and residents of the village can take ownership to boost the amenities available to the community.

Ross Jones, 26, a trustee of the Vernon Institute Management Committee (VIMC) in Saughall, who were hoping that the site would be used for community initiatives, has voiced his anger at the decision and the damage that he believes it will cause to an already busy village.

“Myself and many other residents in the village are very disappointed at the decision by the council to sell the site,” said Mr Jones, who has set up an emergency pressure group in attempt to change the mind’s of CWaC officials.

“Saughall village is at breaking point already and we can’t keep building more houses without adding to the already overstretched amenities in the community, not to mention the traffic problems that already exist in the village. The facilities that we have in Saughall, such as the Vernon Institute, already struggle to cope with demand and any developments of 29 new homes will only serve to make that situation worse.”

Hoping to secure a Community Asset Transfer, the VIMC had come up with a development plan for the Ridings site, proposing to use the site, which has a hall and stage, to hold events and clubs throughout the week to cater for Saughall’s growing population.

Although a public consultation was held earlier in the year, the pressure group are hoping that they can still change the mind of CWaC, with the final deadline for submission of planning for the site early next month.

“We are going to keep fighting the council on this as we feel that it is a major injustice and does not benefit our village,” said Mr Jones.

“We feel that the council have done this for no other reason other than profit and that they have neglected the needs of the village and failed to realise the benefit of a Community Asset Transfer of the Ridings site.”

A council spokesman said: “We have a contract with Morris Homes to sell the site to the company, subject to planning permission. We believe that this course of action offers the best value for our council tax payers.”

See full story in the Chester Leader

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