Letter: Ryde School Boarding House proposal ‘should not go ahead’

The Ryde Town Council, the North East Heritage Group and over fifty residents have objected to a proposal that the IWC planning officer has recommended conditional permission for.

ryde conservation area from sea plus building at 3 coniston drive height

We always welcome a Letter to the Editor to share with our readers – unsurprisingly they don’t always reflect the views of this publication. If you have something you’d like to share, get in touch and of course, your considered comments are welcome below. This from the Ryde Against Boarding House group (RABH). Ed

The Ryde Against Boarding House (RABH) group were very disappointed to learn that IWC planning officer has recommended ‘conditional permission’ for the Ryde School Boarding House proposal.

They feel that the introduction of a 70 bedroom ‘hotel’ in the middle of one of Ryde’s Conservation Areas is a highly retrograde step.

All Conservation Areas are protected by law (Town and Country Planning Act 1990) and any development must enhance their character.

Where is the ‘positive effect’?
It is very hard to see how the introduction of this building which is of an “institutional, functional and modern appearance” and houses 70 inhabitants, can have a “positive effect” on the this area with its many Grade II listed properties.

Indeed the Ryde Conservation Area Character Appraisal adopted 2011 states this is a ‘quiet and pleasant’ area. The building will also be highly visible as you approach Ryde by sea and also from many locations on the public highways around Ryde School.

Biggest development for 100+ years
This does not tally with the IWCC report that states the “school site is obscured by the existing tree cover” and “the impact of this building visually from the public realm would be negligible”.

This would arguably be the biggest development in this part of Ryde for 100+ years and would undoubtedly dominate and diminish the Conservation Area.

It should not go ahead.

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Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. darknessvisible

    28.Jul.2017 11:47pm

    Only two years ago a new boarding house was developed in Lind Street by Ryde School which is now empty of boarders, having failed. Perhaps they should utilise this first before alienating the residents of Spencer Road with yet another expensive folly…

    • lastmanstanding

      29.Jul.2017 11:58am

      Failed? Because they used it for staff accomodation for a while so they were closer to the school (they’ve lived at the boarding campus in Bembridge in the past). Don’t worry though, there will be students back there soon enough.

      As for the article, clearly you haven’t looked at a number of the properties in the area that are far from “in keeping” with your ideas. By comparison, the new building is far more considerate. The trees will also provide some cover (far more than the illustration suggests)… assuming the neighbors refrain from chopping down any more protected trees because they spoilt the sea view (they never had).

      Given the amount of revenue the school brings into the local area, and Island businesses, I welcome any advancement Ryde School (or any Island-based business) make… we need every boost we can get!

      • Sally Perry

        29.Jul.2017 12:25pm

        Just to be absolutely clear, this is not a news report by OnTheWight, but a letter from a group of Ryde residents.

      • I’m glad you refer to Ryde School as a business, because it clearly is. Yet somehow it is a registered charity, with all the perks and benefits that brings – although you’ll struggle to find it mentioned on their web site.

        In return for this charity status, I believe they are meant to do things of benefit to the community. I also struggle to see what that may entail. Any one have any ideas?

        I have long detested the way they have been allowed to take over West Street, seemingly able to get such permissions easily when others can’t. Just because they are an exclusive school for the well off. I also don’t buy into the ‘money’ they bring into the area one little bit.

        • lastmanstanding

          29.Jul.2017 8:51pm

          Before making further comment, you might consider checking your facts. Yes, the school is both a business and a charity. Their charitable status is clearly stated on all correspondence and they frequently do things for the community… they have to as a requirement of the charitable status.

          As for the money they bring in, this comes from a number of avenues: staff employed by the school often move to the Island (if they don’t already live here), buying houses and spending their hard earned salaries at local businesses; the students also shop locally (take a stroll through Ryde town centre just after school finishes each day). Even the school prefers to use local contractors, where possible.

          As for getting permission on West Street (or anywhere else, for that matter), you might want to sit in on some of the planning meetings… everything they’ve ever asked for has had to be fought for, often taking multiple amendments and meetings before getting a result (and not everything gets passed). Again, please do some research before voicing opinion as fact.

          • The thing is, I’m looking for facts. It is a charity as I stated – and yes, I did have to hunt for details of it on their web site. Of course it is on official correspondence – they will know how to follow such requirements. But I really don’t believe it is widely known or advertised.

            Which brings me to the real question: why is it a charity? You say it’s a business and a charity. Surely it can’t really be both?

            I am genuinely interested in hearing about all that Ryde School does for the community. Please enlighten us.

          • profoundlife

            31.Jul.2017 9:53am

            Peters, I believe they are a charity just as basically every school in the country is, state or independent. I’d be amazed if people don’t know that after the recent general election.

            What being a charity means is that after paying salaries (I have a relative who works there and I know they’re not really so different from state schools), if there’s money left over, no one gets to fly to Rio with it. Surprised you didn’t know that. That contrasts with a lot of profit making academies in the ‘state’ sector.

            I don’t know everything they do, but I do know they offer full scholarships to some students. Their facilities are used by local sports clubs and starting point for Ryde Carnival and Pride. They host island school sports events. Their theatre is used by non-school productions. I don’t pretend to know it all. What were you hoping they would do, though?

            Happily, state schools on the island are improving, but there are a lot of very normal families on average salaries who’ve sacrificed to send their kids there. That only relieves pressure on state schools. Similarly, a numberbof professionals, such as doctors, have told me they wouldn’t move to the island if there wasn’t a good school on the island.

          • profoundlife

            31.Jul.2017 9:55am

            Sorry, meant to say Peterj, but autocorrect had other ideas

          • profoundlife

            31.Jul.2017 10:02am

            And, I’m told, the also host events for other schools such as Sing Up Day, some staff work as governors in other local schools, they have provided support to other schools if they are lacking staff in some areas (such as maths).

  2. darknessvisible

    29.Jul.2017 12:31pm

    I think the point is that the boarding numbers have dropped which would have forced the school to use the Lind Street accommodation for staff. My issue is that this accommodation should be sustainable for boarders over a period of time before a further development is considered. Otherwise, the school may end up with two unsustainable buildings instead of one.

    • lastmanstanding

      29.Jul.2017 8:56pm

      Except there were boarders put in the Bembridge campus, where the staff had previously been… it was a simple swap.

      As for whether the new boarding house is sustainable… I guess we will find out soon enough, but clearly they are confident that it will be or they wouldn’t be spending millions of pounds on a new building.

      • darknessvisible

        30.Jul.2017 12:41am

        I am sorry that you assume this will be the case. The senior school and boarding numbers have dropped over the last four years and the surplus has more than halved. Building a new boarding house in addition to Lind Street will not solve this trend – a far more fundamental review is needed in order to guarantee the survival of this important island school.

        • lastmanstanding

          30.Jul.2017 5:57pm

          Assuming you have access to the numbers and this is the case, I agree with you that they need to review their plans.

          That said, maybe the new building is to consolidate their boarders…

  3. To be clear, Ryde School are trying to build a huge hotel like building on their playing field which is in a conservation area. The building will house up to 70 odd persons and cause a lot of noise to residents of the surrounding properties. It is all very well for people who do not live in the vicinity to say that “it is good for Island business” but is it? Perhaps sell a few more tins of coke and chocolate bars with profits going back to the mainland, but look at the damage to the environment and the spoiling of the views from the Solent towards the Island. The Isle of Wight planners have been negligent in the processing of this application and if it is approved on Tuesday, it will not be the last of it.

    • Suruk the Slightly Miffed

      29.Jul.2017 2:16pm

      **”The building will house up to 70 odd persons and cause a lot of noise to residents of the surrounding properties.”**

      A bit of a sweeping generalisation, don’t you think? I know they are the offspring of the well-to-do, but I’m sure most of them are pretty normal. 😂

  4. Yes, that is my point. They are ‘normal’. What was it like at your school when 70 odd pupils were let loose in the playground or perhaps at Uni. when it was time to ‘relax’?

    • Suruk the Slightly Miffed

      29.Jul.2017 5:54pm

      Sorry, Harry, it was a joke. A play on words. Your odd meaning “approximately” Vs odd meaning “strange”.

    • lastmanstanding

      29.Jul.2017 9:04pm

      Except it’s not a playground, nor is it a university building. It is a space they go to work and sleep and is under constant supervision.

      As for “a few tins of coke”, clearly you haven’t seen their spending… I have a full time job and doubt I could spend the money they do in town. Even if it were just a few cans of coke, the number of students and the frequency with which they purchase those fans will certainly make a difference to a number of businesses in town.

      Will it change the look of Ryde from the Solent? A little, I suspect, but nowhere near what has been suggested and I very much doubt anyone will actually notice… have you actually looked at Ryde when coming in on a boat, the FastCAT or the hover? Take a photo next time you do and try and highlight the area you are talking about… I’d be interested to see the results (truthfully).

      • “Will it change the look of Ryde from the Solent?” Look at the picture at the top of the page. It is to scale and this is how it will look. I always look at the town from the sea. It is most impressive with the Church and spire at the top of the town and the attractive houses along Spencer Road, St.Thomas Street and the Esplanade. It looks best from a cruise ship leaving Southampton with hundreds of people on decks and balconies admiring the Island. If this eyesore is ever built, they will think we have all gone mad.

        • lastmanstanding

          30.Jul.2017 6:00pm

          The picture where the building is highlighted so that you can clearly see it? Tone down the colours to the same as the other buildings in the picture and it is a very different look.

          I’d also need to check, next time I’m on the Solent, but won’t some of those trees be in front on the building?

  5. Yes, of course. Must think twice before using the word again. What would you think of Ryde School building this on a playing field in a Conservation area, especially if you lived in a flat only 50 metres away?

  6. Fred Karno

    30.Jul.2017 12:27pm

    I sincerely hope that the local county councillor for the Ryde North West Ward; Cllr Adrian Axford, (Tory), has “called in” this planning application, so that it can be considered properly by the Isle of Wight Planning Committee (councillors), and NOT just nodded through by employees of the Council, ie the planning officers.

  7. darknessvisible

    30.Jul.2017 1:07pm

    He may well have done as it is to be discussed at committee this Tuesday.

  8. Fred Karno

    30.Jul.2017 6:00pm

    Thanks for the info Geoff – nice to know another democratic process is being removed. This particular application is a huge concern to many people. I’m only a matter of yards away, albeit not in Spencer Road. This application is making a whole mockery of the principle of Conservation Areas and I don’t believe officers can be trusted to act impartially as their judgement may well be influenced by relatively recent events in Queens Road, when the council lost the planning case there involving Ryde School and presumably had to pay substantial costs.

  9. darknessvisible

    31.Jul.2017 12:25am

    The “numbers” are a matter of public record, as is the case with all charities. There are currently two boarding opportunities for pupils at the school which are not being properly utilised. To alienate local residents by borrowing money to create a third will be of little help to anyone and smacks of short term opportunism for those who have control of the school at the moment. No doubt, such a development will look good on a CV, but will leave the school in significant difficulties in the longer term.

    It is to be hoped that the governors of the school wake up before it is too late….

    • islandrock

      31.Jul.2017 9:53pm

      As far as I was aware, the staff at the Bembridge Boarding site were those looking after the boarders there, so if it had rooms available for other staff does this not suggest that the numbers are low there too?
      Sad that what is clearly an unpopular proposal gets conditional permission; the numbers are not there to fill it.

      • lastmanstanding

        2.Aug.2017 8:02am

        No, they have a number of visiting/temporary staff (student teachers, for example) that would normally be given accommodation at Bembridge but students were allocated their rooms and they were put in Lind Street instead.

  10. Refused! So the those with the money do not always win. If only the governors of the school knew how much harm this planning application has done to the goodwill that their neighbours had always shown towards the school in the past, they might apologise and beg for forgiveness. No more putting up with pupils parking outside their homes and noisy kids on the tennis court trying to outdo each other with their use of expletives. Look out Ryde School, we are out to get you!

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