As pressure from the community mounts on Totnes secondary school to sell a parcel of its land to the town council instead of a developer, the college says “all potential buyers” are being considered.
More than 1,200 townsfolk have signed a petition urging King Edward VI Community College to sell its Lower Field to the town council, which says it will protect and enhance the green space for the community.
The council has made the college an offer of £2.5million for the site, which it says reflects its market value.
But the college has opened up the sale of all its surplus land across the whole school site – a total of 14 acres – to any interested parties including potential housing developers.
The school hopes to raise £7million from the sale of its redundant land, which also includes areas of the Redworth site, which it will use to improve its facilities.
The college said there was widespread support in its consultation – which 99 people responded to - for plans to retain the half of the existing Lower Field as an all-weather pitch and open space.
In a statement, the college said Governors have been clear with potential buyers from the outset that opening the school’s surplus land to the widest interest “would enable them to make the best choice on disposal.”
The statement said governors “remain excited at the prospect of raising much-needed funds to improve school facilities for KEVICC students and their community.”
Chairman Jim Lodge said: “We’ve been clear as governors from the outset, amongst ourselves and with interested parties, that we want to consider all proposals for the college’s surplus land.
“That’s why we are embarking on a rigorous process of establishing interest from all parties before reaching any decision.
“We are acutely aware of the importance for our school and its community of securing investment which will improve the learning environment for current and future KEVICC students, as well as provide better facilities that our community can access.”
The school has proposed selling off some of its sites to a developer, as the Joint Local Plan says up to 130 homes can be built on the site.
The land is being sold by asset management company, the Torbay Development Agency, which has advertised it as a “prime development opportunity.”
But critics fear the sale of the Lower Field, which includes the Elmhirst Building, to a developer could result in the loss of a vital green lung in Totnes, community open space and an historic community building.
Ashburton Road is one of the most polluted in Devon – it is marked as an Air Quality Management Area - and building more houses off the road will make the situation worse for nearby existing householders and the school children themselves, critics say.
School principal Alan Salt said while the college understands potential changes in land use will always spark debate, this is a chance to make substantial investment in facilities to support young people’s learning.
He added: “When schools raise capital in this way the money can only be spent on improving buildings and facilities so this is an amazing opportunity to secure improvements for young people across our community”.
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