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St. Cuthman's

20 Mar 2013 SDNP/13/01358/FUL Please be patient, it can be slow to load as there are nearly two thousand documents associated with this planning application.  

7th July 2016 Durand Academy Trust: Latest news. Will this affect the future of the boarding school at St Cuthman's?

28th March 2016

An extract from WwRPC's Annual Report 2015/2016: After the withdrawal of Durand from the public enquiry in December 2014, the council claimed its not insignificant costs back from the Secretary of State and Durand Academy was ordered to pay. This money was added to monies in the fighting fund and in June 2015, cheques were sent to all donors returning £73,902. Two planned visits to the school by the council this Spring have been cancelled by the chair of governors. We are still trying to engage with the school at a community level.

Tuesday 1st December 2015

Monday 30th November 2015

The school is currently operating a five day week with a total of 89 pupils from Years 9 and 10. To date no new planning application has been submitted. 

Monday 23rd March 2015

As the next step in the investigations into Durand Academy, the Education Funding Agency (EFA) has issued a Financial Notice to Improve to Durand Academy.  This is in response to concerns about the financial management, control and governance at Durand Academy including the management of conflicts of interest, the oversight of the commercial activities of the executive head teacher (Sir Greg Martin) and the financial oversight and management of Durand Academy.


Education Funding Agency: Financial Notice To Improve Durand Academy Trust (20.03.2015)


The EFA’s concerns and the many, significant operating and reporting requirements to be imposed on Durand Academy are set out in Annex A of the attached letter.


The EFA’s letter does not make any specific comments about the future of the boarding school at St Cuthman’s from a financial perspective.  However, it notes that Durand Academy Trust should have a long-term right to occupy the St Cuthman’s site, which is currently owned by Durand Education Trust.  In addition, the EFA notes that Durand Academy Trust “should not have entered into novel or contentious transactions such as engaging an agent to search for alternative sites for the boarding project on a commission based upon the eventual purchase price, without the consent of the Secretary of State”.


Additional details on the issuance of the Financial Notice to Improve are included in the following articles in Schoolsweek, The Guardian and Anti Academies Alliance


Schools Week: Durand Academy Trust issued with financial notice to improve (20.03.2015)


The Guardian: Academy trust served with financial notice warning (21.03.2015)


Anti Academies Alliance: Durand Academy Trust Receives Financial Notice to Improve  (21.03.2015)

Sunday 22nd Februray 2015

Friday 2nd January 2015

Durand Academy withdraws its appeal almost exactly 12 months after planning permission was refused.

On 10 December Durand Academy formally requested to withdraw its two appeals relating to the St Cuthman's site, one day before the pre-enquiry meeting scheduled with the SDNPA and the Rule 6 parties.

It is not clear why Durand has decided to withdraw at this late stage. Meanwhile they continue to transport around 40 pupils to the site for three days each week.

SDNPA: Durand Academy Appeal Withdrawn (11.12.2014)

Chichester Observer: Durand Academy appeal at Stedham is withdrawn (11.12.2014)

Midhurst & Petworth Observer: South Downs NationalPark fights Durand Academy to recoup appeal costs (20.12.2014)

Tuesday 25th November 2014

Sunday 23rd November 2014

Saturday 18th October 2014



Click here to read the Statement of Case prepared on behalf of Woolbeding with Redford Parish Council, Stedham with Iping Parish Council and Milland Parish Council was submitted on 30 September 2014 to the Planning Inspectorate.  The Parish Councils have obtained Rule 6 status which allows them to make representations at the Planning Inquiry.  The statement of case was prepared with the help of the following advisors:  ASP Planning Ltd, planning consultant; Bellamy Roberts LLP, traffic consultant; and, Charles Banner, planning barrister.  The costs have been funded by donations to the WWRPC Durand Fighting Fund.

Friday 17th October 2014

On Friday 24 October 2014 at 7.30pm, there will be a public meeting in the Stedham Memorial Hall.  Please attend!
During the meeting, there will be presentations that will explain: (i) the appeal and inquiry process and timetable; (ii) the actions that are being taken on behalf of the Woolbeding with Redford, Stedham with Iping and Milland Parish Councils; (iii) the reasons why the Parish Councils need to be represented as a “Rule 6” party at the inquiry; (iv) the representation costs and how these may be funded; (v) a summary of the planning, transport, educational and financial sustainability issues relating to the project; and, (vi) the need for those people who have not already written letters to the Planning Inspectorate to write letters to the relevant clerk of their parish.


Emma and Charles Talbot Baker cycled from St Cuthman’s to Paris on 18-21 September 2014 in order to raise money for the WWRPC Durand Fighting Fund.

To date, they have raised a magnificent £1,650 for the fighting fund.

Please click here to read the write-up of their trip.

Many thanks to everyone who has sponsored them and, of course, many thanks to Emma and Charles for their fantastic efforts to have ridden to Paris and to have raised so much money.

If you haven’t already seen it, please click on this link to view a recent article on Durand Academy in the Guardian, “More delays at Durand’s boarding school”.  The last paragraph sums up the project: “a bus carrying adults … lost en route to the site … was heading the wrong way up a narrow lane through which it could not pass.  We hope this is not a metaphor for the whole project.”  http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/oct/14/university-pgce-courses-braced-big-cuts

Tuesday 9th August 2014

St. Cuthman's to Paris Sponsored Bike Ride

As you will be aware Durand Academy has filed for its final appeal which will be heard in February 2015. This will be a very costly process for the community. In order to assist with this fund raising Emma and Charles Talbot Baker, whose parents have been residents in Woolbeding for over 30 years, are taking part in a sponsored cycle. To tie in with the cause we will be cycling from St. Cuthmans to Paris, a route of around 190 miles.

The ride will start on Thursday 18th of September, and our first leg will be to Newhaven. From here we will be taking an overnight ferry to Dieppe. We will then continue our journey across France, and arrive on the outskirts of Paris by Saturday the 20th. This will leave us a short journey across Paris on Sunday to celebrate up the Champs Elysee!

We would be very grateful for any donations, all of which will go straight to the fighting fund. To donate please contact saveourpark@yahoo.co.uk.

We hope you will support us to raise funds for this important cause. Thank you.

Emma and Charles

Monday 8th August 2014

The Planning Inspectorate has granted Woolbeding with Redford Parish Council, Stedham with Iping Parish Council and Milland Parish Council (collectively, the “Parish Councils”) Rule 6 status in relation to Durand Academy’s appeal.

Effectively, this allows the Parish Councils to take an active part in the planning inquiry. We consider this representation to be very important as we do not believe that the SDNPA has fully understood, or will make a sufficiently comprehensive case at the inquiry for certain key issues and in particular: (i) the transport and traffic issues; (ii) the need for the school, including the need for the school to be located in a national park; and, (iii) the flawed site selection process.

However, the costs of participating in the inquiry and preparing the required reports are very high. These are detailed below. Therefore, we urgently need to raise an estimated amount of approximately £80,000 (excluding VAT, which will be funded separately). We are, therefore, seeking donations to help fund these costs. All donations would be welcomed. Please contact

  •          Planning consultant's preliminary advice and preparation of statement of case: £4,500.
  •          Traffic consultant's preliminary advice and preparation of statement of case: £2,500.
  •          Planning barrister: briefing fee, preliminary advice and preparation of  statement of case: £10,000.
  •          Attendance by all three at the 10 day public enquiry would be around £60,000.
We continue to work alongside the SDNPA's legal team to present the most robust defence of their planning committee's decision to     refuse the planning application last December.

Anne Reynolds

Chairman of Woolbeding with Redford Parish Council

Friday 15th August 2014

Durand Academy brought 3 coaches to St Cuthmans for a visit by pupils, parents and teachers on Friday 11th July. Follow this link to see photographs demonstrating how inappropriate coaches of that size are on these country lanes.

Monday 28th July 2014


Inspectorate Appeal Reference: APP/Y9507/A/14/2220406

Balfour Beattie, acting on behalf of Durand Academy has appealed against the SDNPA’s refusal of planning permission to expand the former St Cuthman’s school.

The appellant’s Statement of Case does not contain any new information or arguments  and does not give any real idea of the nature of the evidence which the appellant will produce.  Meanwhile, the appeal has been validated by the Planning Inspectorate and a public enquiry has been arranged for February 2015. This enquiry is expected to last between 10 and 15 days.

The parish council’s sub-committee has been in contact with the SDNPA’s new case officer, Keith Reed, and he suggested that the council might like to be represented at the appeal as an interested party. To do this most effectively we have to ask for Rule 6 status. We have consulted with our two neighbouring parish councils, Milland and Stedham with Iping and they have agreed to support us as in this application. One reason that we wish to be represented at the public enquiry is that we disagree with the SDNPA’s statements at the 12 December planning committee meeting about transport and need. We will be able to provide our own barrister and  planning and traffic consultants.

The costs associated with this decision are high and we are looking to local supporters for donations to the fighting fund. Full details re costs can be obtained from the parish clerk, Elizabeth Robinson clerk@woolbedingwithredford-pc.co.uk.

Tim Slaney, SDNPA director of planning has sent out a letter dated 17 July inviting all previous objectors to make representations to the Planning Inspectorate in relation to the appeal by 25 August. The parish council has asked for this deadline to be extended.

The statement of case can be found attached here.

Anne Reynolds, Chairman of Woolbeding with Redford Parish Council

Thursday 12th December 2013
At a meeting today the SDNP Planning Committee REFUSED both of the planning applications of Durand Academy for the former St. Cuthman's School site. The local community was very well served by six, truly excellent speeches from Stephen McGairl, Anne Reynolds (Chairman of Woolbeding with Redford Parish Council), Brett Farmery, Mike Reynolds, Adrian Hearle and Eddie Lintott.

Midhurst & Petworth Observer: Durand boarding school plan is refused (12.12.2013)

Friday 29th November 2013

Woolbeding with Redford Parish Council has submitted a detailed objection letter to the SDNPA. Utilising the proceeds of the Fighting Fund, leading consultants were engaged to review and comment on the amended planning application of Durand Academy and Balfour Beatty.  The reports submitted include many significant reasons why the amended planning application is deeply flawed and should be refused. Follow these links to view the letter:

Paul Butt's Letter of Objection for WWRPC Part 1

Paul Butt's Letter of Objection for WWRPC Part 2

Tuesday 26th November 2013

Tuesday 19th November 2013

The deadline for receipt of letters by the SDNPA is 28 November 2013.
Quote reference numbers SDNP/13/01358/FUL and SDNP/13/01359/LIS and:
(i) post to Chichester District Council, East Pallant House, East Pallant, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1TY or
(ii) email to dcplanning@chichester.gov.uk or
(iii) submit your comments online on the SDNPA website by following this link
If you wrote a letter before make reference to it.
Tuesday 12th November 2013

Public Meeting at Stedham Memorial Hall
Last night, Monday 11th November, over 120 local people attended a meeting at Stedham Memorial Hall at which the amended plans for the new Durand Academy were presented by the two affected parish councils, Stedham with Iping and Woolbeding with Redford. It was noted that the new buildings, while occupying a slightly smaller footprint, are some 0.2 metres higher than the previous drawings. The new build area is five times the existing built area and the equivalent to 57 new houses or four superstores. The meeting was also shown how the mass of the new assembly hall completely dwarfs the former St Cuthman's school. Kate Hearle, architect, stressed that this new building does nothing to conserve or enhance the Grade II listed Wispers mansion, in fact quite the contrary. 

Following a lively question and answer session, the chair, Paul Mellings, asked if anyone in the hall supported the amended application - this question was met with silence. He then took a vote of all those who opposed the application, this was unanimous. 

Woolbeding with Redford PC and its planning committee are meeting to discuss the application at 6.30pm on Wednesday 13th in Linch Church. Stedham with Iping PC is meeting at 7.00pm on Thursday 14th in Stedham Memorial Hall.

Durand Acadmey is holding a public meeting to present its plans at 12 noon on Friday 15th November in Lodsworth Village Hall.

Anne Reynolds

Chairman, Woolbeding with Redford Parish Council

Wednesday 30th October 2013

Durand Academy has submitted a revised planning application to the SDNPA. The revised application is for a boarding school for 375 pupils, i.e. excluding the previously planned 6th form. The key documents to review on the SDNPA website are:  the Design & Access Statement; the Site Management Plan; the Planning Statement; the Non-Technical Summary (of the Environmental Impact Assessment); and, the Lighting & Dark Skies Policy Document. To view the plans, follow this link and scroll down to the latest documents. Please be patient, it can be slow to load as there are now nearly a thousand documents associated with this planning application.

Meeting at Stedham Village Hall on Monday 11 November 2013 at 7:30pm. A meeting is being held by the parish councils of Stedham with Iping and Woolbeding with Redford in order to review the revised plans of Durand Academy. All welcome.

Sunday 4th August 2013

Monday 8th July 2013

Saturday 6th July 2013

National Audit Office shares villagers' concerns about the scheme's financial viability


Concerns about the government's backing for this controversial scheme emerged in a letter from the comptroller and auditor general, Amyas Morse, to the DfE's most senior civil servant, Chris Wormald. A copy of this letter was sent to Woolbeding with Redford parish council. Mr Morse says 'in my view the department currently lacks sufficiently robust estimates of the financial risk of this project. In part, this is because full analysis of future operating costs and revenues has not been carried out.'  He goes on to confirm what the parish council's steering group has long contended, 'no estimate was made of the likelihood or scale of financial risk to the Department should the project prove financially unsuccessful or the Trust prove unable to fund its element of the project cost.'

The NAO report has revealed that in fact the DfE has already spent some £330k on supporting the project and intends to spend a further £19,117 per month, this is despite saying that funding would not be awarded until planning permission was secured.

The NAO was asked to review the funding by the Public Accounts Committee chairman, Margaret Hodge, following a letter from the Woolbeding with Redford Parish Council.  In her response to the council's chairman, Anne Reynolds, Lady Hodge said: 'It is clear to me that either the department has not kept sufficient records of the work it has undertaken on this project, or that it did not undertake sufficient work to have the full understanding of the project risks at the point it initially decided to award funding.' She goes on to say 'no detailed assessment appears to have been undertaken by the Department to confirm that such funds will be available.' The parish council's own findings have revealed that Durand Education Trust has an annual income of between £250 and £350k per annum which is not sufficient to run the boarding element of the school, estimated by the headmaster of the state's largest boarding school, to run to some £2.5 million per year. In addition, Durand have to find a staggering £25 million to fund their share of the capital cost to deliver what has been promised. This is based on the total cost of the proposed project of £46 million estimated by Appleyard & Trew on behalf of the parish council. Durand is responsible for the cost of conversion of Grade II listed Wispers to staff accommodation, and the building of the underground sports centre and the 6thform boarding accommodation blocks. Lady Hodge concludes by saying 'I remain concerned about the scale of uncertainty in several areas of the project, notably the Trust's financial contribution to the school and the ability of the school to act as a going concern'.

Quod erat demonstratum or QED!

Anne Reynolds

Chairman, Woolbeding with Redford Parish Council

Midhurst & Petworth Observer: Business case for proposed Durand boarding school questioned (04.07.2013)

The Independent: Michael Gove censured over plan for inner-city boarders in Sussex countryside (30.06.2013)

Sunday 9th June 2013

Thursday 16 May 2013

Please sign up to our online petition – Save South Downs National Park - but please note that this is not a substitute for submitting comments to the SDNPA.  Click on this link: http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-south-downs-national-parkBy lunchtime today 1,175 people had signed our petition objecting to this proposal.

Wednesday 15th May 2013

Monday 13th May 2013

Sunday 12th May 2013

Friday 10 May 2013


To save you searching for them on the SDNPA planning portal, please see the links below.

Woolbeding with Redford Parish Council's Letter of Objection

Attached NUT Letter

Attached Mr Melvyn Roffe Letter

Attached Prof. Colleen McLaughlin Letter

Planning Consultant, Paul Butt, has submitted a letter of objection on behalf of the Parish Council, see below.

Objection Letter on behalf of Woolbeding with Redford Parish Council

Appendix 1: A Vision for the Future of the South Downs

Appendix 2: Cole Easdon Transport Critique

Appendix 3: South West Environmental Limited Visual Impact Assessment

Appendix 4: Cole Jarman Acoustic Report

Appendix 5: Environmental Design Associates Report 

Appendix 6: Appleyard & Trew QS Report

Appendix 7: PC Letter to SDNPA

Appendix 7A: Attachment Letter of Mr Melvyn Roffe

Appendix 7B: Attachment Letter by Mr Ray Sirotkin

Appendix 7C: Attachment Letter By Prof Colleen McLaughlin

Monday 22 April 2013

We were shocked by the negative reports in the national media on Sunday 21st and Monday 22nd April.  We are taking this matter extremely seriously, are horrified by the bias and narrow scope of the reporting and allegations that the motive for all of our opposition to Durand Academy’s proposals is based upon racism and NIMBYism and disassociate ourselves entirely from any racist comments.

As a Parish Council, we emphasise that our motives to oppose the school are not based upon the identities of the children and that we are ready to embrace and support any well-conceived scheme that would, based upon evidence, improve education for under-privileged children.  We are obtaining professional advice in order to come up with (i) the most effective response to the media stories and (ii) strategies to enable our genuine concerns to be heard.

There has been a series of more balanced articles which focus on some of the broader issues relating to the development. Set out below are links to these articles.

The Guardian: Gove's boarding academy borders on the ridiculous (28 April 2013)

TES: State boarding plans 'on shaky ground' (26 April 2013)

Daily Express: How will 630 teens cope with life in our village? (25 April 2013)

The Independent: National Trust is latest to object to inner city academy's 'Eton of state sector' in West Sussex countryside (24 April 2013)

The Independent: Costs of running ‘'Eton of state sector' hugely unrealistic (23 April 2013)

The Independent: Editorial: A state-sector version of Eton is long overdue (23 April 2013)

The Telegraph: The inner city and the village school (22 April 2013)

The Telegraph: Auditors investigate race row school (22 April 2013)

The Telegraph: Boarding school row: It's about planning, not race, locals insist (22 April 2013)

If you would like to be kept informed about the application, or contact the Parish Council about it, email saveourpark@yahoo.co.uk.

The documents handed out at the public meeting held in Milland Village Hall on the 10th April can be found in Related Links below. If you would like to complete the questionnaire please leave it at the Milland Village Store or, if you are able, scan and email it to saveourpark@yahoo.co.uk.

Documents so far submitted to SDNPA Planning:



St. Cuthman's Working Party News


Over 140 local residents gathered in Milland village hall on Wednesday 10 April to hear about Durand Academy’s plans to build a new boarding school on the site of the old St Cuthman’s school.


Residents reacted in horror when told that the proposed new build would occupy the same space as three superstores.


A significant number had already read the planning document and serious concerns were voiced about the traffic assessment and travel plans. It was felt that estimates of increased traffic movements were conservative and that the proposed coach timetable was unworkable. Several attendees expressed concerns about the narrow road width characteristic of the area, and lack of passing places on the access roads. Doubt was cast on the safety of pupils who might be tempted to leave the school site on foot to venture into Stedham or Midhurst.


Many residents believed that the opening of such a school would force them to change their leisure habits: walking, running, riding and fishing were all mentioned.


Adrian Hearle commented that the published statement of community involvement only mentioned two public meetings, both held in Stedham, a parish which will be much less affected than the villages of Fernhurst, Redford and Milland, all situated on the travel routes. One person commented that the fact that the applicant had only engaged with Stedham proved their lack of knowledge of the community.


‘The school is far too big for the site and totally inappropriate for the area’ said Anne Reynolds, chairman of the Woolbeding with Redford parish council.  ‘We look to the National Park to protect our countryside and see this very much as a test case for their planning committee.

Stedham Parish Council is holding a meeting for their residents on Friday 19 April at 7.30pm in the Stedham Memorial Hall.

Useful Links

Related Articles

National Trust Letter of Objection (16/04/13)

Save Our Park – A selection of photos to highlight some of the concerns regarding the proposed St Cuthman’s School development for Durand Academy (14/04/13)

Traffic Consultant's, Cole Easdon, Power Point Presentation to the Public Meeting (10/04/13)

The three following documents were handed out at the public meeting held on the 10th April in Milland Village Hall.

1. Save Our National Park Leaflet

2. Durand Academy's Proposed Boarding School - Summary of Financial Issues

3. Save Our Park Meeting Questionnaire

Wispers, Stedham by Norman Shaw. Print from 1876

A thought-provoking, systematic analysis has been undertaken of the Durand proposals to establish a State Boarding School. Read about it in this short flyer which can be downloaded by clicking on the link below.


Flyer for main paper - Evidence and Experimentation in Education - Analysis of Durand Proposal (13/03/13)


The full paper is downloadable via the link below. Note this includes a three-page summary and a preface with regularly updated information.


Evidence and Experimentation in Education - Analysis of Durand Proposal (13/03/13)

Department for Education’s Performance Statistics for Lambeth Primary Schools (27/02/13)

Midhurst & Petworth Observer: Plans for former St Cuthman’s school near Stedham (04/02/13)

TES: MPs to probe price tag of state boarding school (20/01/13)

Local Schools Network: Gove shines beam of approval on one Lambeth academy but leaves similar high-achieving non-academy primaries in the shadows (09/01/13)

How much does it cost to run boarding at an Academy? Paper by Melvyn Roffe, Principal of Wymondham College. (08/01/13)

Huffington Post: Durand Academy School Paid PR Firm PLMR £152,000 Last Year For Mention In Parliament (20/04/12)

Midhurst & Petworth Observer: Villagers voice fears over plans for state boarding academy at former St Cuthman’s School (29/03/2012)

Midhurst & Petworth Observer: VOTE: Are you in favour of a boarding school for disadvantaged children in the former St Cuthman’s School at Stedham? (12/01/2012)

Minutes of St. Cuthman's Public Meeting (09/01/12)

Letter from Greg Martin of Durand Academy to Woolbeding and Redford residents (09/01/2012)

Midhurst & Petworth Observer: Public meeting over St Cuthman’s School plans (05/01/2012)

Parish Council's Invitation to residents to attend a Public Meeting to discuss the development at St. Cuthman's (06/12/2011)

Midhurst & Petworth Observer: Concerns over Stedham £17m former school plan (25/11/2011)

Parish Council's Letter to Andrew Tyrie (16/11/2011)

Chichester Observer: School at Stedham now a school for disadvantaged children (15/04/2010)

Mail Online: Inner-city school buys mansion to keep pupils safe from knife crime (14/04/2010)