Quorn Primary School - compulsory purchase 1957
29th March 1957
Quorn Primary School - compulsory purchase of Burton's orchard
Stafford Orchard - a "white elephant"
"St Bartholomew's School, Quorn, is below the minimum standards laid down by the Ministry of Education for teaching space and far below what is reasonably needed in total accommodation."
Leicestershire's Director of Education (Mr Stewart C Mason) said this at a public inquiry held by Mr P E Ashwell, on behalf of the Ministry, at the school last week, when details of a £17,000 extension scheme were given.
The inquiry concerned Leicestershire Education Committee's proposal to acquire compulsorily the orchard of Mr John Charles Burton, of "The Hollies", School Lane, for new buildings. Mr Burton objected to the proposal, saying that in his retirement he would lose most of his garden and that he would have the inconvenience of a school within a few feet of his bungalow home.
A suggestion that a portion of the Stafford Orchard, the public open space on the other side of the school, should be taken for the extension was opposed by Mr W J B Beardsley on behalf of Quorn Parish Council. A well-known Quorn resident and former urban and parish councillor, Mr Thomas C Dexter, was in favour of the idea.
In his statement, Mr Mason said the school had no assembly hall, medical inspection room or staff room. The school had 252 pupils on the roll in January and the extensions planned would bring it up to the standard required for a five classroom school for about 200 pupils. He added that within the next decade classes might be reduced to 30 and seven classrooms would then be needed.
"After considering all the factors involved it appears to be in the best interests of the future of the school and the public that the extension on the site should be made in the manner proposed," he concluded.
Replying to questions by Mr J Rodgers (for Mr Burton), Mr Mason agreed that residential development in Quorn was taking place only on the west side of the A6 road. He agreed that there were seven classes in the school at present and said he did not think it practicable to build a new school on the site of present development. He said it was an "understood thing" that the use of Stafford Orchard as a playing field was granted to the school by the Parish Council.
In opening the case for the Education Committee, Mr E G Sharp, assistant solicitor to the County Council, said the first part of the school was built in 1818 and additions in 1871. It was the Committee's view that the buildings were not only structurally sound, but also capable of being made into a school of modern standards. Mr Sharp said that the small plot of land at the north of the school, known as the school garden, would be developed as one unit with the 2,162 square yards of Mr Burton's orchard which it was proposed to acquire.
If it were possible to acquire a portion of the Stafford Orchard, the committee would have to provide an open space of not less than the area taken equally advantageous to the people entitled to use the ground. "Apart from other matters, it would be most difficult to find other land which would be suitable for an open space", he said.
Agreeing that some hardship was bound to result to Mr Burton, Mr Sharp added that "This was the only site on which the school may reasonably be extended. It is the logical and economical and proper direction in which to expand".
At this stage Mr J G Emerson, a member of the Parish Council, stated that the Council had declined to make a permanent agreement with the Education Committee regarding the use of the Stafford Orchard as a playing field for the school.
Mr Ernest Douglas Smith, assistant county architect, after giving details of the proposed extensions, said a new school of the required size would cost £37, 268 to erect. He said the present St Bartholomew's School building was structurally sound with many more years of useful life ahead.
Mrs A C R Turner said few people used the Stafford Orchard and children preferred to play in the streets.
After Mr Sharp had disclosed that Mr Burton refused to allow the county surveyor access to survey the ground, Miss Mabel Bradley spoke of the time and money Mr and Mrs Burton had spent in developing their holding and said it should not be taken from them.
Presenting Mr Burton's case, Mr Rodgers put forward the view that his orchard was legally safeguarded in the same as the Stafford Orchard. If this was so, the inquiry was a nullity. Mr Burton bought the land in 1922 and erected a bungalow on it in 1932. There were over 40 fruit trees and bushes on the ground and he sold fruit, poultry and eggs. In his retirement (Mr Burton is now 63 years of age and a gardener at Loughborough College) he proposed to develop the land still further..
"There is no question that the loss of this land would be a hardship. It is part of his livelihood and pays the rates. If it is taken from him there would be the noise and inconvenience of children within a matter of feet from him and he would be left with a small triangular piece of land with practically no garden and no amenities. Something he had built up over a period of years and hoped to enjoy in his retirement is going to be taken away from him."
Mr Rodgers said that taking the development of Quorn into account, it would be better from the planning point of view and also from the road safety angle to build near the site of the development. He said that even with Mr Burton's land, the school would still be below the minimum standards and the possibility of acquiring part of the Stafford Orchard should be considered. A large portion of it would remain and the football pitch could be re-sited.
In his statement Mr Burton said he built his bungalow as far away from the school as possible to ensure privacy. Questioned by Mr Beardsley, Mr Burton said the Stafford Orchard was used only for dogs and he had never seen more than a few people there.
Mr Thomas Wagg, chartered surveyor, said Mr Burton's bungalow would be seriously depreciated in value if the scheme was carried out and he would lose his seclusion. In addition, all the trees would have to be felled.
Mr Dexter said that while he was serving on the urban and then the parish council many attempts were made to get the Stafford Orchard developed on the lines intended by the donors, but no agreement was reached. All that was done was to provide a children's playground.
"The rest of the ground is a white elephant to the village," he said. If the school extensions were erected on the Stafford Orchard it would be a better site then Mr Burton's orchard. "My concern is that the right piece of land should be chosen if this school is to remain in existence and be developed. I believe the proper site is the Stafford Orchard.".
Replying to Mr Beardsley he said the Stafford Orchard was not extensively used by Quorn people. It was not liable to flooding.
Mr Beardsley stated that three benefactors of Quorn, Mr J D Cradock, Mr E H Warner and Mr S J Wright, purchased the Stafford Orchard. In 1920, after selling 635 square yards as an addition to the site of the school, they conveyed the remainder to Quorn Urban Council for public pleasure grounds.
"The Parish Council are in the nature of trustees of that land and it is their duty to do everything to keep it as an open space and, so far as they are able with the limited funds at their disposal, to improve it."
He said that if the football pitch was re-sited, the children's playground would have to be moved. "I entirely disagree that it is a white elephant. I have lived in Quorn all my life and I am satisfied that it is a great amenity to the village."
He said the Parish Council had no intention of restricting the existing permission they had given to the education authority to use the Stafford Orchard for school purposes as and when required.
Mrs Burton complained of the behaviour of youths and boys on the Stafford Orchard and Mr Burton commented that the school "wants a bomb on it".
Mr Ashwell inspected the site, The decision of the Minister will be made known.