New Plans for Old School

The Forest of Dean District Council have announced that The Diocese of Gloucester have submitted plans (application number P0945/11/FUL) for the conversion of the old Longhope Church of England School, up School Lane, into two dwellings with the demolition of the toilet block (that was condemned a long time ago!) The plan is for the old building to be converted into a pair of 2-bedroomed semi-detached units on one level, containing an entrance hall, living room, kitchen/diner, bathroom and two bedrooms. This will also include the erection of a detached 2-bay car garage. A tarmac driveway will go across what was the “small playground” to the garages. The properties will have about six metres of “the orchard” as a rear garden bounded by a 1.8 metre high close-board fence.

The plans say that the building is to be renovated and made good as required, with the roof stripped and refixed after renovation of timbers (good news to hear for all those pupils over the years who sat at their desks wondering whether the roof would collapse when someone slammed a door, or the partition screen was slid back to extend the hall – that was holding up the roof, as we were told years later!!) The windows are to be renovated and secondary glazed where possible or replaced to match where not. (The same windows that were nailed shut because opening them would cause the frames to fall out where they were so rotten!) At the rear, new patio doors are to be installed into existing walls to replace the windows, with stone/brick walls to be made good around to match. (These windows were the only good ones, because they had been replaced as double- glazed windows against the wind and rain that used to whistle through!)

The development does not appear to include what was known as Class One/Canteen, so this building will remain boarded up. The remaining land, including “the orchard” the “wildlife garden” and the area where once stood the (very) temporary buildings for 30 years, (did they blow away on a stormy night, or were they reduced to a pile of sawdust?) is said to be allocated for residential development to be the subject of a separate application. So this will not be the end of the building works by the Diocese of Gloucester, with just a reminder before you all ask, that none of the profits from this development will be coming to Longhope, or our church.

It will be good to see this old building (built in 1829) tidied up at long last, and not see it fall into ruin, but with some sadness for all those thousands of pupils who attended this very successful school – but what if the walls could speak? What tales they could tell? At least the original façade of the building will remain much the same, which is probably a good thing, as so many of the listed buildings of the old village are being torn down in the name of modernisation. Any past pupils out there? Tell us your thoughts via the "comments box" below or the "Feedback" page. If we get enough interst we may publish a few. The website will follow any activity, if and when it happens, so watch this space.

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