The Grove School site future still up in the air

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the grove school

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THE future of a school site in St Leonards remains unclear much to the dismay of local residents.

The Grove will merge with Filsham Valley this summer to form the St Leonards Academy, and the Darwell Close site was set to shut at the end of the next academic year, in September 2012.

But after residents’ repeated attempts to get answers about what the county council plans to do with the site, the Observer has learned that it will be used as a school for an extra 12 months, with the authority refusing to rule out keeping it on for education use beyond September 2013.

A spokesman for East Sussex County Council confirmed the one-year extension this week, and insisted decisions over the future of the site had not yet been made.

He said: “There will be a complete review of the Hastings area, in terms of educational provision as well as other key children’s services settings.

“On conclusion of that review, we will be in a position to state whether or not the site will need to be retained.

“When we start to consider the longer term future of The Grove site, consultation with local residents would be a key requirement.”

But Alan Smith, of the Wishing Tree Residents’ Association said the ongoing confusion was not reassuring those living near the site, and rumours are rife that developers have already been sniffing around should it become available.

“People are becoming suspicious,” he said. “The fact that it is still up in the air does not sit well.

“The county council does not work that way - my feeling is they have something in mind but they don’t want to announce it yet.

“The worry is that it sits there empty, someone will come along and torch it.

“Some of the possible uses will need all sorts of legal processes to push them through which could take years.”