A council which sold a former school house for £9,500 more than 40 years ago is to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds to buy it back.

Norfolk County Council says it will be easier - and more profitable - to develop the former school site in Sedgeford, if it also owns the adjoining school house.

The school house was sold by the county council in 1980 and has been in private ownership since then.

Eastern Daily Press: The former Sedgeford Primary SchoolThe former Sedgeford Primary School (Image: Chris Bishop)

But, with the council having closed Sedgeford Primary School in 2020 amid falling numbers of pupils, the authority has decided owning the property will be beneficial to future redevelopment plans for the site.

Eastern Daily Press: Jane James, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for commercial services and innovationJane James, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for commercial services and innovation (Image: Jane James)

Jane James, the Conservative-controlled council's cabinet member for commercial services and innovation, took the decision to buy the freehold of the property.

The council says the price it will pay must remain confidential, but confirmed that when the authority sold the property in 1980 it received £9,500.

County Hall's own property company Repton Homes - which develops sites for homes on council land, with the help of private housebuilding companies - is keen to develop the former school site.

A spokeswoman for Norfolk County Council said: "The former school was declared surplus by cabinet in December 2021.

"Cabinet resolved to instruct the director of property to dispose of the property.

"However, acquiring the school house will allow a better development on the site.

"Repton are pursuing a planning application, although no formal decision has been made by Norfolk County Council to sell the property to any party."

Earlier this year, an application to demolish a garage at the school house and to build a new, three-bedroom house in its place was approved by West Norfolk Council, despite a recommendation by its own officers to reject it.

However, Norfolk County Council said the site was subject to a restrictive covenant, limiting the use of the property to a single dwelling.

The property was due to be put up for sale on the open market until the authority stepped in to acquire it.