New lease of life for old school

The former school building in Queen Camel, near Yeovil, is to have a new lease of life after being sold to a village community trust.

This month, Somerset County Council sold the site of the old school in Queen Camel to the Queen Camel Community Land Trust Ltd for £250,000.

The building has been out of use since June 2016 following the opening of the Countess Gytha School at the other end of the village, built with £4m of County Council investment and opened by Her Royal Highness, The Countess of Wessex.

The purchase by the Trust was possible only because of a major grant from Power to Change, an independent charitable trust that supports and develops community enterprises.

Kate Stewart, Director of Programmes at Power to Change said “We are delighted to award Queen Camel Community Land Trust a grant through our Community Business Fund to create a community enterprise centre in the heart of the village. Businesses like these provide vital services and opportunities for local people in rural areas.”

The site includes a Grade II listed school house dating from 1870 and additional buildings dating from the 1920s.  It will now be developed into a community centre for the benefit of the local and wider community. That means providing workspaces and support for new and start-up businesses, and promoting health, wellbeing, creativity and employment.

The Old School will become a permanent asset for the local community and the Trust will develop and manage the site, celebrate its heritage, enhance the open spaces and manage the flood risk that was part of the reason for the move to the new school.

The Trust is already seeking tenants for the new enterprise and next month it is launching a share offer scheme. Potential tenants and Enquiries through qcclt@hotmail.co.uk  

A spokesman for Somerset County Council said: “This is a great example of a project that has been driven by the community and will benefit the community. The Trust has some really exciting plans for the old school and we look forward to seeing them put into action.”

Rosemary Heath-Coleman, Chairman of the Trust, said: “This is an exciting new community business enterprise close to the A303 and at the gateway to South Somerset.  It will offer space at reasonable rents and support for businesses especially start-up or businesses wanting to expand from working from home.”