Gresham’s School at Holt wins vital planning victory to fund future development

An artist's impression of the Gresham's School Sixth Form block which would cost just over £4.4m.

An artist's impression of the Gresham's School Sixth Form block which would cost just over £4.4m. - Credit: Archant

A historic private school in north Norfolk has won a crucial planning victory to help secure its future.

New head of Gresham's School at Holt, Douglas Robb

New head of Gresham's School at Holt, Douglas Robb - Credit: Archant

Gresham's School, in Holt, which dates back to 1555 needed permission to use three bits of spare land for housing to pay for £9.5m worth of improvements to keep it competitive in the independent school sector.

All three plots were just outside the town's development boundary and planning officers recommended refusal – but yesterday councillors had different views and voted to approve the trio of sites.

The felt that economic benefits of helping the school build a new sixth form centre and upgrade its boarding houses, outweighed breaching its planning policies.

New headteacher Douglas Robb, who takes the helm next month, said after the meeting: 'I am delighted. This a not a glamour project. It puts the school on a secure footing.'

Barry Whiffin who objected to the Greshams housing plans.

Barry Whiffin who objected to the Greshams housing plans. - Credit: Archant


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But resident Barry Whiffin, who voiced his opposition to the committee, said: 'The committee was over-influenced by Gresham's. This is in the interest of a minority with no regard for local feeling.'

North Norfolk District Council's development committee debated plans for up to 126 homes off Cromer Road on a triangle of farmland off the bypass; and up to a further 19 and eight on two current sports field sites off Grove Lane.

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All were just outside the town development boundary, but the school said it need to sell all three sites for housing to pay for its developments.

The school said it was the biggest local employer with 400 staff and its future was vital to the local economy. The town council and chamber of trade supported all three applications.

But Mr Whiffin, from Grove Lane, told the committee it was wrong to approve schemes according to what Gresham's wanted, and which would result in 'urban sprawl' between Holt and High Kelling.

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