A battle has erupted over the sale of a former church school site in the heart of rural Lancashire.
The school at the centre of the dispute, Out Rawcliffe CE in Wyre, is being marketed on the instructions of the Church of England as a site with redevelopment potential.
I think the long-term thought is that some day the school might reopenCouncil Chairman Coun. Mr Phil Durrigan
But now the local Parish Council has weighed in questioning whether the building and land off Crook Gate Lane can be sold by the church.
The school opened in 1847 and closed its doors in July 2013 with just four pupils on roll. At the time, locals speculated the Blackburn Anglican Diocese would have its hands tied as the site had been donated by a 19th Century benefactor - a member of the Ffrance family from Rawcliffe Hall, for educational purposes only.
Agents Eckersley say much interest has been shown since the 0.6 acre site and school buildings went on sale six days ago, with offers invited over £300,000.
But Out Rawcliffe Parish Council Clerk Jonathan Slee has contacted local MP Ben Wallace and Eckersley warning the council is questioning who owns the site if it is not being used as a school, Parish Council Chairman Coun Mr Phil Durrigan said: “We are trying to establish actual ownership before it is sold. I think the long-term thought is that some day the school might reopen.”
But a spokesman for the Diocesan Board of Education replied: “Following the closure of the building as a school, the Board of Education as custodian Trustees have the authority vested in them by the Secretary of State to place the site on the open market for sale. The Board of Education have no claim on the process of sale or any vested interest. When the site is sold the net proceeds of sale will be paid over to the party or parties that donated the land to be used for educational purposes.”