New planning application for old Swanage Grammar School site

Property developers say they are going to submit a new planning application for 90 homes on the site of the old grammar school in Northbrook Road in Swanage.

In 2016, permission was granted for 52 homes to the north of the site and in 2019 approval was given to demolish the school and build 39 dwellings on the land to the south of the site.


Now Barratt Homes, who is building the housing development, Compass Point on the opposite side of Northbrook Road, has written to local residents to say that it has acquired the land and will shortly be submitting a full planning application to Dorset Council.

Housing plan
Barratt Homes

The new proposed plan of the site incorporating the whole area

“We are acquiring the grammar school site”

In the letter, Barratts head of planning Jon Gateley says:

“Following the success of Compass Point, our current development on Northbrook Road, we are acquiring the grammar school site to enable us to provide a further phase.

“To bring this forward, we have needed to apply for a new permission which extends over the site as a whole and which incorporates our own house types – whereas the earlier applications contained provisional and outline information”

Old grammar school site ready to be redeveloped

The site is currently being used as a compound for the housing development on the other side of Northbrook Road

30 homes “will be provided in other tenures referred to as affordable housing”

The letter summarises what the company thinks are the main points to note:

  • The total number of homes will be 90, of which 60 will be sold on the open market
  • The other 30 will be provided in other tenures referred to as affordable housing, comprising affordable rented options and shared ownership. This follows advice we have received from Dorset Council on its requirements
  • Access will be towards the north-west corner, in line with an earlier permission
  • The development will be mainly 2-storey, with a small area of 3-storey units located roughly on the footprint of the former grammar school building itself
  • Building materials will be to a similar palette as approved on our previous development
  • Consistent with earlier permissions, our scheme secures an area of open space known as SANG
  • The development will provide financial contributions known as Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). The precise amount has yet to be calculated as it involves indexation, but it will be around £1.2m, similar to our earlier development of 90 homes
Old grammar school site ready to be redeveloped

The site looks towards Ballard Down and is next to St Mary’s Catholic Primary School

An attractive location

The site is located within an Area of Outstanding Beauty (AONB) and in an attractive location next to Days Park and Swanage Cricket Club and close to Swanage Town and Herston Football Club. It is also adjacent to St Mary’s Catholic Primary School and has views of Ballard Down.

There is no mention in the letter of any environmental or sustainability measures that will be incorporated into the housing development. Full details will have to be included in the formal planning application. On the company website it says:

“Beyond its own footprint, Barratt is also committed to delivering low carbon homes for its customers and has set a new target to ensure its new standard house types will be net zero carbon by 2030.

“This will be achieved by continuing with a ‘fabric first’ approach over the next 10 years covering such elements as better insulation, more efficient services and new green technology.”

Compass Point redevelopment
Compass Point redevelopment

While the Compass Point development is still being built, the developer says all the houses have been sold

The school was closed down in 1974

Swanage Grammar School was constructed in the 1920s and it’s reported that there’s asbestos in the derelict buildings. The school was closed down in 1974. Recently the site has been subjected to vandalism after the grammar school buildings were left to decay.

A number of planning proposals have been floated over the years including restoring the old school building and in 2012 an application was made to build the new Swanage School on the site but that was withdrawn after a dispute with the landowner.

This planning application may finally see the site redeveloped.

The old grammar school

Swanage Grammar School is all boarded up and ready to be demolished

Further information

Previous planning applications:

  • In 2016 approval of 52 units on the north half of scheme was granted and the details are on the Dorset Council website
  • In 2019 approval of 39 dwellings on the grammar school half of the site was granted and the details are on the Dorset Council website

More about Barratt David Wilson Homes is on its website

For queries about the planning application, Barratt’s head of planning Jon Gateley says he can be contacted via email

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