A private school has been fined £2,500 for illegally displaying an advertising banner at its new boarding house near one of East Sussex’s most important historic sites.
The four metre-long banner promoting Claremont School was attached to the front of Pyke House, a Grade II-listed building in Upper Lake, Battle.
The building, a stone’s throw from Battle Abbey and the site of the Battle of Hastings, will be used by the St Leonards and Bodiam-based school to house boarders from September.
The school ignored a warning from Rother District Council to remove the banner and was convicted of displaying an unlawful advertisement without consent, in breach of the Town and Country Planning Act.
The school was found guilty in its absence in a hearing at Eastbourne Magistrates’ Court on Friday, August 21, and ordered to pay a £2,500 fine, £337 costs and a £400 court supplement.
Cllr Gillian Johnson, Rother District Council cabinet member for strategic planning, said: “Pyke House sits in a historic area of high importance which attracts visitors from around the world.
“The building itself, and those around it, are listed and it’s important that the historic and traditional character of this area is maintained.
“The planning rules are there for a reason and must be applied equally, and the school could have avoided court action by simply removing this banner as requested.”
The banner was spotted around May 18 this year, and on May 22 the school was told to remove it or face prosecution.
However, it was still present when council officers revisited the site on May 29 and June 3.
Pyke House was owned by Sussex Coast College in Hastings for more than 30 years.
The college stopped hosting residential visits at Pyke House in 2008 and students stopped using the facility altogether in 2010.
The building was put up for sale in 2013 after the college said that it no longer suited its needs.
Battle Abbey School put in an offer for the building, which was accepted by Sussex Coast College.
But on the day of exchange on December 12, 2013, Claremont School put in a higher offer, which was accepted, leaving Battle Abbey’s plans in tatters.
When Claremont was revealed as the new owner of the facility in April last year, the director of the school, Mark Beaumont, said the building was to be completely refurbished ready to accommodate up to 50 students.
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