The Charity Tribunal Decision dated 6th December 2011 allows the Appeal against the Charity Commission Scheme of 31st March 2011 brought by four village Appellants Alan Ground, Barrie Pople, Clare Lemieux and Celeste Lawrence, with the support of over eighty villagers. The Tribunal has used its powers to amend the Commission’s Scheme. In explaining its decision the Tribunal thought it right to look beyond the terms of the 1957 Conveyance of the school to the Diocese and take account of the entire history of the Charity, including the 1839 foundation plaque, the Will of the benefactress Miss Woods, and the subsequent dealings with the property. From that history they saw a clear intention that the school should benefit the people of Dunsfold in particular, and considered that there should be a positive obligation on the Trustee to give preferential consideration to the provision of a school in Dunsfold before moving on to consider the wider permitted uses provided for in the Scheme.
The amended scheme incorporates the principal amendments sought by the Appellants, namely first that if the school is not used as a ‘Church of England School for the education of children and adults or children only’ it may, in preference to other charitable uses, be used ‘as a school for the education of children who are resident or whose parents are resident in and around the parish of Dunsfold’. The alternative uses, as all parties agreed, must be consistent with the principles of the Church of England, and the Tribunal noted that it was accepted at the hearing that a standard school curriculum could be expected to fall within this provision.
Secondly the permitted term of a lease for such school purpose was extended by the Tribunal from 25 years in the Commission’s scheme to 125 years, the Tribunal agreeing that a lease for school use should be long enough to enable the occupier to obtain loan finance towards the capital costs.
The Appellants will now begin work on a ‘formal, viable and timely proposal for use of the property as a school for the village’ (to use the Tribunal’s words), such a proposal beginning with the formation of the proposed Dunsfold Village School Trust, and will consult with the village on the way forward.
7th December 2011
See the full Charity Tribunal Decision.