Penhurst plans go on display in Chippy

Penhurst School
Penhurst School

Chipping Norton residents are to be consulted on plans to convert a former school for children with profound disabilities into a care home.

Action for Children, which ran Penhurst School in New Street before its closure a year ago, has appointed developer Beechcroft to draw up plans for a 60 to 65-bed care home and up to 45 assisted living flats and cottages on the site.

A public consultation will be held at the school’s John Cory Hall on Wednesday (April 30) from 4pm-8pm and will include an exhibition of the proposals.

Chipping Norton’s deputy mayor Chris Butterworth said the town council would not express a formal opinion on the plans until an application is submitted but added: “Generally speaking it looks to be a development which fits in with the vernacular of the area.”

He said a positive feature of the scheme is the preservation of the school’s Victorian buildings Monks Dene and Cory House within the care home, which will feature a new terrace overlooking the New Street recreation ground.

Penhurst, which employed 104 full-time and 30 casual staff and could cater for 24 residents aged 10-19, closed in February 2013 after Action for Children said the school had become “unsustainable”.

A statement issued by Barbara Street, Action for Children’s operational director of children’s services at the time, blamed the closure on a move towards ‘community-based care’ which led to the school making a ‘substantial’ financial loss in 2012.

The school hit the headlines again in March this year when Education Secretary Michael Gove named Penhurst as one of 21 institutions to be investigated under the inquiry into alleged abuse carried out by Jimmy Saville between the 1960s and 1980s.

Action for Children is now conducting investigations.