Part of a city centre primary school that closed this summer in controversial circumstances is already up for sale for almost a million pounds as a ‘prime development site’.
The playground and school hall annexe of St George’s Primary School at the bottom of Brandon Hill is close to Bristol city centre and is now on the market for £950,000.
The main school building on the other side of Queen’s Parade is owned by Bristol City Council, but the ‘annexe’ site across the road containing some of the classrooms, the school hall and the playground, is on land owned by the Diocese of Bristol.
The Diocese now stands to make almost a million pounds from the sale – possibly more, as the site is up for sale by tender with a guide price of £950,000.
Agents Maggs & Allen said the site has huge potential to have apartments or townhouses built there, describing it as ‘a prime development site’.
“The site is currently arranged to provide a single storey period hall, a more modern two storey building and a central playground. Enclosed by a perimeter stone wall, the site enjoys a fantastic position opposite Brandon Hill in the City Centre,” the agents said. “There is potential for a variety of different uses including residential redevelopment, subject to obtaining the necessary planning consents. Given the residential nature of the surrounding Georgian buildings, we would suggest that a scheme of townhouses and/or apartments may be a suitable alternative use for the site. Alternatively, the site and existing buildings would be ideal for those seeking a premises for a continued community use.
“The site is situated in a superb and central location on the corner of Queens Parade and York Place, opposite Brandon Hill in Bristol City Centre. Easy access is provided to a wide range of amenities within the city as well as the Harbourside, Bristol Marina and Wapping Wharf with its eclectic mix of bars and restaurants,” they added.
Anyone wanting to buy the site and develop it would need to get planning permission, and it is up for sale by tender with offers considered “on both an unconditional and ‘subject to planning’ basis,” the agents said.
St George’s was a Church of England primary school which closed this year after a long battle fought by parents to save it.
Earlier this year, Bristol City Council’s cabinet approved plans to close the site and close St Michael’s on the Mount primary school, and open a newly-merged school on the St Michael’s site half a mile away on the other side of Park Street.
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When that decision was made in late February, parents said they felt ‘angry and betrayed’ by the council and the Diocese of Bristol.
Parents had long complained that the council, the school’s leaders and the Diocese of Bristol had failed to invest in the school and then, when numbers of pupils dropped because of the threat to its future over many years, said it would have to close because of low pupil numbers.
At the time of the final decision in late February, Alissar Amali, whose son attends St George, branded the consultation process a “big joke”.
The single mum said: “Next year my son is going to be in Year 6 – a very critical year before secondary. I really don’t know how emotionally destructive the closure of his dear school will be on his development. When the mayor [and councillors] approved the closure of our school in the live cabinet meeting, both my son and I have been in tears.”
She said the process had been “unfair and appalling”, with parents feeling their voices had been “marginalised”. Alissar continued: “I feel that our school, our community, our students and stuff been scrapped like a cheap old car.
“We tirelessly sent emails to the local authority representative to let them know how damaging this decision might be for us and our children, to hear them later in the cabinet meeting backing each other over the closure of our school, pretending that they didn’t really hear much objections from parents,” she added.
A spokesperson for the Diocese of Bristol said the money from the sale will go into the church’s other schools and education facilities.
“The Annexe site, owned by the Diocese Board of Finance, is being returned to the DBF on August 31, now that it is no longer required as school premises by the local authority, and it is now going to be sold,” she said.
“When the land of an old school site belonging to the DBF becomes surplus to requirements for educational purposes, it is sold. The sale proceeds are either passed to the replacement new school for its capital projects, or used for capital projects to improve the facilities of other CofE Schools in the diocese, or a combination of both. In each of these options, the money is used to benefit CofE schools in the Diocese, and that is the only permitted usage of the money,” she added.
Bristol Live has approached Bristol City Council to ask about the future of the main St George’s school site, and is awaiting a response.