Group learns £1million offer is not enough.

A £1million bid by parents to buy St Michael's School has failed, the North Devon Gazette has learned.

Administrators dealing with the disposal of Tawstock Court have evaluated nine offers for the Grade II listed independent school, which closed in December after running into financial difficulties.

Today (Friday), administrators Grant Thornton said a 'preferred purchaser' had now been selected and all unsuccessful parties, including parents from the Tawstock Court Volunteer Group, had been advised accordingly.

Grant Thornton partner Nigel Morrison said: "In accordance with our duty to act in the best interest of the creditors overall, we are satisfied that the open marketing process has produced an outcome that will return the maximum amount to the creditor body which, of course, includes many members of the local community. "Nevertheless, I recognise the significant disappointment of those who sought to establish a new school operation on the site.

"I understand from the parents' group that they are hopeful of being able to work with the new owner of the property either to purchase the nursery buildings, or to extend their occupation of the nursery site for a longer period."

The firm said it was unable to name the successful buyer, expected to exchange contracts within the next two weeks.

Tawstock Court Group spokesperson Gordon Gurr, said the group would be issuing a statement later this weekend but a statement on the group's Facebook page said there had been many more bids than expected.

It continued: "Thus we believe the price will have been high. We will now revert to plan B to engage with the purchaser to secure a longer term position for the nursery and pre-prep. Through the administrator we have made this request and have received positive feedback that the purchaser is understanding of the position and willing to discuss extension of the lease.

"Please rest assured our plans going forward all relate to nursery and pre-prep (Reception, Year 1 and Year 2). We are licensed with Ofsted and our licence with the Department of Education for pre-prep remains in force.

"We have 12 weeks until end of June to resolve matters and in the scale of what we have been dealing with up to now this is plenty of time. So whilst this is a set-back we have plenty more avenues to pursue and still the determination for a successful outcome."