A private school in Eversley is looking to build a cluster of homes on its 70-acre site to fund a state-of-the art sports facility for pupils and the community to use.
St Neot’s School wants to build a new sports hall, an extended and re-covered swimming pool, improved tennis courts and a re-located all-weather astro sports pitch to meet Sport England sizing standards.
The high-spec development is expected to cost in the region of £2million, so in a bid to fund it, the school may build up to 15 homes in the school grounds.
The sports development plans, alongside three different housing proposals, went on public display last Wednesday (February 5) at the school in St Neot’s Road.
Councillor Shawn Dickens, member of Eversley Parish Council and resident of Chequers Lane in Everlsey, attended the exhibition.
He said: “It would be nice if Charles Kingsley’s School could use the new facilities here. Already they use the indoor cricket centre for lessons.
“Private schools have such long holidays, I would like to see the sports facilities open for the public to use.”
Out of the three proposed housing options he preferred option three – to build 15 homes. Option one is to build just three large homes and option two is to build four large homes.
“There is quite a big difference between the first two and the third option,” he said.
“The houses in options one and two would be worth over £1m each and I don’t think there is a need for more of those type of houses here.
“With the need for housing in the south of England, I would like to see houses up to £400,000 so that more young people can afford them.”
Alan Spencer, of Lower Common Road in Eversley, was concerned about the impact the additional housing would have on the rural area.
He said: “The development would be outside the settlement boundary and should not be allowed.
“I am worried whether the local drains and sewage system would be able to cope with the development.
“The school has been able to build its other facilities and extensions so I don’t see why they can’t use the school fees to pay for the sports development.”
St Neot’s School moved to Eversley in 1894 and since that time has expanded to provide schooling for around 300 children between the ages of three months and 13 years.
The new sports hall would provide five new badminton courts, three indoor cricket nets, one full size tennis court and one basketball court.
In addition, it is proposed to build a replacement headmaster’s house and a new caretaker’s home on the site of two existing bungalows.
School bursar Andy Brown said: “Local sports clubs have already indicated an interest to use the new facilities. There seems to be a strong demand for local sporting facilities in the area.
“We would be able to provide for swimming clubs, basketball clubs, five-a-side football teams and hockey.”
He said the school wanted to be more involved with the community with a view of opening the facilities to the public during the evenings, at weekends and out of term-time.
According to Mr Brown, the development would require "significant funds of money" in the region of £2million.
The build is expected to take one year and if planning permission goes ahead soon, the facilities could be ready for the first school term of 2016.
Peter Smith, chairman of the governors, said: “It is important to make the school valuable to the people that live around it.
“With our forest (outdoor activity area in the school’s woodlands) lots of children are able to come and use it and already sports clubs use our swimming pool.
“We are still at very early stages and so we held this exhibition to find out what people thought about the proposals.”
Once the public comments have been collated, Mr Brown will meet with planning officers to discuss whether to submit a formal planning application to Hart District Council.