Twickenham MP Munira Wilson has expressed her frustration at a private school and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) after not being informed of the sale of a Grade II listed building.
The MoD opened bidding on Kneller Hall, situated in Whitton, on 8 February and Radnor House School completed their purchase on Friday 10 September.
Wilson found out about the sale of the 9.7 hectare site third-hand after a parent gave the school’s newsletter to a councillor who then shared it with her.
Wilson said: “I am very disappointed by the lack of communication.
“Early engagement through elected representatives would have been very welcome and it was disappointing that that didn’t happen.”
Aatif Hassan, chairman and founder of Dukes Education, which owns Radnor House School, said the school is committed to engaging with the community and other stakeholders like sporting clubs in the area.
Plans for the site include an ecological corridor and sporting grounds, which will be open to children in Whitton and neighbouring boroughs.
Hassan, a former soldier, is keen to preserve the building and grounds’ military history, with Kneller Hall having previously been the home of the Royal Military School of Music.
Hassan said: “We’ve received a letter from a group of soldiers who served there, so they’re delighted that it’s now going to inspire the youth and the generations to come.”
Wilson said she is looking forward to hearing Dukes Education’s plans and admitted she thinks residents will be pleased that it will remain an educational institution.
However she claimed that, given the vast expanse of land, an affordable housing development would have been beneficial for the Whitton community, as it has some of the most deprived areas in the borough.
Wilson added: “Given the massive shortage we have of social and affordable housing in the borough it is a bit of a missed opportunity.”
Whilst Dukes Education will be offering their usual bursaries and academic scholarships, Wilson hopes there will be scholarships particularly targeted for the Whitton area.
The MP also voiced residents’ concerns surrounding congestion and strains on public transport, given the fact Kneller Hall is next to Chase Bridge Primary and The Richmond Upon Thames School.
Hassan suggested the impact on transport may not be as bad as the public fears, claiming many of Radnor House’s pupils walk or cycle to school, and facilities will be made available at Kneller Hall for this to continue.
Dukes Education aims to restore Kneller Hall’s grounds and buildings with hopes of opening in September 2023.