School plan bids to raise £1m

A SUFFOLK school is planning to build six new homes in its grounds in an attempt to raise £1million for a restoration project.

Stoke College in Stoke by Clare is in the process of seeking planning permission for the development, which it hopes will help fund major repairs to its historic buildings.

The 17th century building, which caters for students aged between three and 16 and counts X-Factor winner Matt Cardle among its former pupils, has a medieval building buried within its walls.

The remains, which have been identified by Suffolk architectural historian Leigh Alston, and described as a site of national historic importance, date back to 1415.

They are believed to be the site of the Dean’s House, when Stoke College was first established to train priests.

Once restoration is complete, the college will be able to reuse parts of the historic buildings and demolish a temporary classroom block currently being used.

“We’ve saved and cared for these wonderful buildings for 50 years,” said school governor John Parcell.

“However, from the time the college acquired the site there was a backlog of really major repairs, which the college has been trying to deal with.

“We now need help with that, and so we’re trying to raise about £1 million.”

Mr Parcell said that the college took over the buildings which lay empty and neglected after the Second World War and that the proposals have been displayed to residents and meet with their approval.

“We held a detailed exhibition to show our development plans to local residents,” he said.

“Lots of people came. There was a good deal of praise, and not a single objection.”

The college is currently in discussions with St Edmundsbury Borough Council and English Heritage over the new development.