Anger over delay on Shropshire school land sign-off
A former Shropshire school has been left to fall into disrepair for more than two years due to a government delay in signing off the building.
The village primary school in Hope, near Minsterley, closed in July 2017 as part of a merger with Worthen Primary School and St Mary's Primary School in Westbury.
Following the controversial closure, villagers in Hope were optimistic the site could be utilised to provide much-needed housing and car parking.
But more than two years later, Shropshire Council is still waiting for the Department for Education (DfE) to agree that the site no longer has to be used for education, which must be done before any other use can be made of the land.
In an update to Councillor Heather Kidd, who represents Chirbury and Worthen, the council officer dealing with the case said the delay was "frustrating".
"We still have not received the final permission from the Secretary of State for the disposal of the land at Hope, despite chasers and apologetic DfE responses," said the officer.
"Again, I am promised an answer shortly, but I'm not holding my breath.
"I've made strong representations about the timescale involved in these matters generally, as I fear opportunities could be missed if the system doesn't change."
Councillor Kidd said: "The community all came together and decided they would like some houses on the site.
"We have just had our housing needs survey back and there is a huge housing need across the whole parish.
"Rural communities really need some smaller houses. We have had nothing but big four, five, six-bedroom beds built.
"There are lots of young people wanting to buy their first homes and other people who want to downsize.
"The site should only have about two to four homes build on it, but the community is willing to have six or so. We also want some of the school land for car parking. It is a real community project."
Councillor Kidd said it seemed that the request had been "stuck on the minister's desk" and was taking far longer than it should.
She added: "Meanwhile the old school building is being continually vandalised and broken into."
Steve Law, Shropshire Council’s strategic asset manager for assets and estates management, said: “Shropshire Council continues to pursue the appropriate approval from the Secretary of State to dispose of the site.
"Upon receipt of a decision, the council will then consider next steps accordingly.”