Charity tribunal will hear appeal over empty village school

Local residents challenge Charity Commission ruling that Dunsfold village school in Surrey can be leased for non-educational purposes

Charity Tribunal
Charity Tribunal

The charity tribunal is to hear an appeal by a group of residents of a Surrey village against a Charity Commission decision that allows a disused local school building to be used for non-educational purposes.

The commission ruled in March that the Diocese of Guildford, the sole trustee of the Dunsfold Church of England School Trust, could lease the school in Dunsfold, which has been empty since 2004. The ruling did not say the building had to be used for education.

Alan Ground, chair of the Dunsfold Parish Council, is one of four residents named on the appeal to the tribunal. He told Third Sector that the Dunsfold Church of England School Trust, which owned the school, had the education of children in the village as one of its objects. The regulator had not taken this into account in the March scheme, he said.

"The commission has made no requirement that the building should be used for infant education, and that is what has annoyed the village," he said. "There is a great need here for a local school and yet the building has been empty for years."

Ground said he was part of a group of residents that wanted to buy the building and run it as a school.

"I hope that the result of the tribunal hearing is that we are able to reach an agreement that, whatever the Diocese of Guildford does with the school building, it must remain for educational purposes," he said.

Directions published by the tribunal say the hearing is scheduled to last for one day and to take place on either 28, 29 or 30 November.

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