The beautiful buildings that housed St Mary’s School in Shaftesbury have been bought by Dorset Council for £10.5 million, excluding taxes and fees.
The independent Roman Catholic day and boarding school for girls, which was founded in 1945, closed in July 2020.
Cllr Spencer Flower Leader of Dorset Council, said, “This is a significant investment and I am pleased that we have been able to secure it for the benefit of our community. We are always looking at ways of improving the delivery of services and this successful purchase will help us achieve that.
“We are very ambitious for the site. St Mary’s School comprises 165,000 sq ft of accommodation set within grounds of 55 acres. It is suitable for a broad range of services and community uses, which could include provision for Dorset children, supported living for our Dorset care leavers, provision for adults with disabilities, as well as a possible site for businesses to boost our local economy and more besides. We are committed to working with local people and stakeholder groups to get the mix of activity right so together we can achieve great things for this site and our community.
“I realise people are asking how can we afford it, but this is a clear example of investing to save in the longer term. I don’t want to pre-empt any decisions about the site, as we want to work with local people and groups first, but I can say that building a facility like this from scratch would cost considerably more. This is a unique opportunity and a very exciting chance to create something new that will greatly benefit our community.”
The consultation, which will begin as soon as possible, will explore a number of possible uses for the site. Local people and stakeholder groups will be asked for their views and this feedback will be considered before a final decision on use is made.
Details of the consultation and how people can get involved are being drawn-up and will be shared shortly.
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