To: Andrew Shaxson, Chair of the Planning Committee, South Downs National Park Authority

Save South Downs National Park

Save South Downs National Park

We strongly oppose the development by Durand Academy in the heart of South Downs National Park.

We believe that it is your duty to protect our National Park and protect the landscape and scenic beauty of the area. This means safeguarding the Park’s night skies, its wildlife, its tranquillity and this invaluable area of outstanding natural beauty.

We want to point out that the development is too large and too urban for such a small site in such a sensitive area. It will mean a massive increase in the level of heavy goods vehicles and traffic on dangerously narrow country lanes. The character of the National Park will be changed irreversibly. The project is not sustainable either financially or environmentally and risks setting a dangerous precedent for future development.

We want all children to be able to benefit from the South Downs National Park for generations to come.

Why is this important?

The South Downs National Park is in under threat from a massive development by Durand Academy.

Durand Academy’s proposed new school for 600 teenagers and 86 staff is the size of three superstores with almost the same population as the nearest villages. Its scale is totally inappropriate for such an important area of outstanding natural beauty.

What’s at risk?
The development will permanently damage the local environment – the night skies, tranquillity, landscape, flora and fauna - which the SDNPA has a statutory duty to preserve and protect. The development is only 60 metres from a protected Site of Special Scientific Interest.

What will happen?
Durand Academy’s children and teachers will be bussed in and out from London in convoys of coaches down narrow country lanes which are dangerous for such high levels of traffic. The only two approach roads are single track. The school is not accessible by public transport. All people and goods will have to access the site using their own vehicles.

Who else is concerned?
The Council for the Protection of Rural England and South Downs Society. The National Trust opposes the development saying that it is ‘contrary to the fundamental National Park purpose to conserve the landscape and scenic beauty of the area.’ The National Trust is ‘particularly concerned about the impact of an average of 40 HGV movements per day for an 86 week build period and the impact on highway safety and the amenity of the National Park.’

What about the future?
Durand Academy has not demonstrated that it can afford to sustain the project and has significantly underestimated the costs involved. We do not believe the project is workable without significant additional support from taxpayers and fear that we will end up with an abandoned project in the heart of one of the most beautiful areas of Britain which may be the gateway to further development.

What do we want?
We fully support the proposal to give inner-city children access to the countryside and the best educational opportunities possible but not in this place, not on this scale and not in this way. The 600 teenagers will be confined to a small site with space for only one football pitch and under strict curfew in a development that will cause irreversible harm to the precious environment they are meant to be able to enjoy. The South Downs National Park needs to be protected for all Britain’s children for all generations to come.

It is time to say NO.

Durand Academy claims that it has support from local people. We need to demonstrate that there is strong public opposition to the proposal.

We don’t have much time. Please sign this petition and circulate it to your friends.

For further information please see

“Costs of running ‘Eton of state sector’ hugely unrealistic – West Sussex villagers object to boarding school for inner-city pupils, saying Government has got its sums wrong.”

The Independent, 24 April 2013: “National Trust is latest to object to inner city academy’s ‘Eton of state sector’ in West Sussex countryside – Body says site is not suitable for a school with more than 600 pupils.”

The Daily Telegraph, 22 April 2013: “The inner city and the village school – Proposals to site a south London boarding school in a leafy Sussex village have divided opinion.”

The Daily Telegraph, 22 April 2013: “Auditors investigate race row school – Plans for state-run boarding school at the centre of a Conservative race row face a Whitehall investigation after an intervention from a Labour MP.”

The Daily Telegraph, 22 April 2013: “Boarding school row: It’s about planning, not race, local insist – Plans to open a new state boarding school for poor children from south London in a rural beauty spot are an “experiment” which will turn the pupils into “political footballs”, a local councilor has claimed.”

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