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Plans progress for fire-struck middle school site

PUBLISHED: 12:11 18 March 2019

The Castle Hill Middle School building in haverhill was destroyed by a fire in 2012. PIcture: GREGG BROWN

The Castle Hill Middle School building in haverhill was destroyed by a fire in 2012. PIcture: GREGG BROWN

A fire-damaged Suffolk school site that "has been empty for far too long" is set to be transformed into new homes after permission was given to build 25 houses on the site.

Sara Mildmay-White said it was positive for the community to see progress with the site. Picture: PHIL MORLEYSara Mildmay-White said it was positive for the community to see progress with the site. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

The former Castle Hill Middle School in Haverhill was abandoned in 2011 and the empty building was then destroyed by a fire in June 2012, leaving parts of it structurally unsafe.

But now the site will be completely transformed with 25 new homes built on what was the school playing fields with a new recreational space created where the school buildings currently sit.

Councillors say neighbours welcome the plans to finally demolish the fire-hit buildings.

The design brief for the new homes, which will be built by the council-owned homes developer, Barley Homes, was submitted to the West Suffolk joint executive meeting earlier this week.

The executive, made up of cabinet members from St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath councils, unanimously backed the plans for the fire-damaged site, and they will now be adopted as informal planning guidance for developers.

Councillor Sara Mildmay-White, deputy leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council and cabinet member for housing, said: “I think this development brief has been welcomed by members of the public, and Barley Homes are the developer, so it will be good to see this from them.

“It’s been empty since 2012 so members of the public in Haverhill are particularly keen to see something on this site.

“All in all a positive reaction to it all and I really look forward to that site being tidied up – it’s been empty for far too long.”

The school was closed as part of a shake-up of the education structures which resulted in Suffolk adopting a two-tier system of primaries and secondaries.

The development brief has already been the subject of a public consultation, with the document effectively operating as a strategy for the site’s development and the development already adopted in the Haverhill Vision 2031 Local Plan.

Although the site has been developed previously, in the application it is classed as a greenfield site because of the location of the homes.

The council’s report said the homes were planned for the playing fields because they would adjoin the existing residential development on the Chivers Road side, rather than sitting next to two primary schools.

The report added: “The area occupied by the former middle school buildings will need to be made available as recreational open space prior to the housing being developed to offset the loss of playing field.”

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