Plans for Parracombe School to be rebuilt

Devon County Council looking likely to give go ahead for rebuild of fire damaged school.

FIRE-HIT Parracombe School looks set to be rebuilt if Devon County councillors give the go ahead on Wednesday.

At a Cabinet meeting this morning, members will be asked to instruct the authority’s insurers to reinstate the buildings that were devastated by fire last September.

In his report, head of planning Dave Black will recommend the rebuild for a number of reasons, including that it is likely to prove the cheapest option.

It said the council was likely to be liable for some element of rebuild costs at Parracombe in any event, as well as having to provide additional accommodation at Kentisbury, estimated to cost more than the current liability and potential settlement figure.

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Committing to a rebuild will ensure no further investment is required at Kentisbury School in the interim.

The report also says the authority is against closing schools unless a decision is made on educational grounds, whereas Parracombe’s last Ofsted inspection said it was a good school where pupils achieved well.

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Plus it said a swift commitment would provide the West Exmoor Federation of Parracombe, Kentisbury and Lynton primary schools with the opportunity to attract the numbers of pupils it needed for the future.

Councillors will also be asked to approve a contribution of up to �150,000 to meet their liabilities under their insurance contract.

Mr Black will tell councillors today: “On the basis that instructing insurers to reinstate the school results in the lowest financial exposure to the local authority and meets its policy on small schools, it is proposed that insurers are instructed to reinstate the building.”

Local county councillor Andrea Davis said was passionate about the school and its role in local community life.

“Parracombe is an isolated Exmoor village with much of its community life built around the school,” she said.

“The rebuilding is important if the village is to remain a sustainable community. Without this school it is inevitable it will lose families.

“It is not just a matter of costs. It’s about the invaluable contribution the school makes to the community.”

The council has said Leader John Hart took personal responsibility for the project and visited Parracombe, Kentisbury and Lynton with deputy John Clatworthy earlier this year to hear the views of the community and discuss the options for the future.

The fire damaged three quarters of the school building, but no one was hurt. Some older pupils have continued to attend the site, whilst the rest are temporarily at Kentisbury.

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