National Trust tight-lipped about future of treasured old school building near Chesterfield
The National Trust has confirmed the sale of an old Derbyshire school building which had been earmarked for a community hub.
The national heritage charity has sold the former Stainsby School, located on the Hardwick estate, by online auction but is not revealing who has bought it.
Charity bosses continued with the sale despite pleas from councillors and residents for it to remain in use for nearby villages as a community hub.
The National Trust says cash raised from the sale will help to preserve Hardwick Hall and its grounds ‘for generations to come’.
However, the Victorian building had been been considered as the ‘last possible site’ for a community hub serving this rural area of Derbyshire and the move has repeatedly come under fire from parish councillors and trustees of the Stainsby Festival.
Coun Tony Trafford, chair of the arts festival and a member of Ault Hucknall Parish Council, said a local consortium had made a good bid in the recent auction but had been forced to pull out.
"It is very disappointing and to be so secretive about the sale is typical of our dealings with the trust over the past 20 years,” Coun Trafford said.
"We have spent 10 years trying to progress a promise they made to work with the community to turn Stainsby school into a community hub.
"We have been met with nothing but prevarication, whether they have blamed a property review or HS2 or any number of other things.”
The Hardwick estate covers a mostly rural area of farmland and hamlets surrounding the 16th Century Elizabethan former home of Bess of Hardwick.
A National Trust Spokesperson said this week: “We can confirm the public auction of the former Stainsby School has come to a close, and we are unable to disclose further details at this time.
"The proceeds from the sale will enable us to continue to protect and preserve the Elizabethan Hardwick Hall, gardens and grounds for generations to come.”
The auction, carried out by chartered surveyors Fisher German described the property as ‘a former village school, offering great potential for development’.