Private school group promises 'sensitive' transformation of Kneller Hall

  Posted: 13.09.21 at 11:47 by Rory Poulter

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The team behind the purchase of historic Kneller Hall say they are working ‘at pace on plans to sensitively transform the hall and grounds into a school’.

They insist the 60,000 square foot property, best known as home to the Royal Military School of Music, will be ‘sensitively transformed’ to include a wide variety of new facilities including:

- Studios for art, textiles and design alongside music and performance areas.

- A new sports hall, re-developed outdoor spaces, extensive playing fields, an all-weather pitch and a multi-use games area.

- Fully equipped science labs and cutting-edge design-technology-innovation suites.

- The creation of an ecological corridor for the community.

A birds-eye view of the site. Credit: Richmond Borough Council.

The site has been bought the Duke's Education group, which owns the independent day school Radnor House, in Twickenham.

It intends to use the historic Kneller Hall as a new Upper School for Radnor House, which has grown in popularity in recent years and now carries a waiting list.

Aatif Hassan, Founder and Chairman, Dukes Education, told Nub News: “Every Dukes school is dedicated to giving its students the foundations for an extraordinary life – and we are thrilled that through the purchase of Kneller Hall, and investment in Radnor House, we can set even more young people on the path to happy, successful and fulfilling futures.

"The site is a wonderful local landmark, and we are looking forward to building links with many local and community groups as we progress with this exciting project.”

Darryl Wideman, Headteacher, Radnor House, said: “This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for Radnor House, giving our wonderful teachers state-of-the-art facilities in which to create a truly outstanding educational experience within the friendly, family environment for which we are known.”

The hall was originally built in the 1840's. Credit: Richmond Borough Council.

The announcement of the sale of the building by the Ministry of Defence to the school last week came as a surprise to residents as well as Richmond Borough Council and the Twickenham MP, Munira Wilson.

The MP said she plans to hold talks with Dukes Education about the development.

Writing on Twitter, she said: “I and local councillors were disappointed to receive this news about Kneller Hall third hand yesterday after parents were informed, especially given the significance of this site to the local area.

“We hope & expect the buyers to engage heavily with the local community.”

She added: “I have secured a meeting with Dukes Education on site to understand their plans and will keep residents updated. There is already significant disquiet locally about the further impact on roads & public transport with yet another big school being built in a very small area.”

Aatif Hassan meets Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace. Credit: Dukes Education.

There has been a mixed reaction to the announcement of the new school. Richmond Chamber of Commerce tweeted its congratulations to Radnor House and others described the scheme as ‘exciting’. However, some local residents are upset at the loss of The Royal Military School of Music.

There are also concerns that plans for green space on the site to be transformed into a public park for locals may not go ahead because, it seems, the school will require this area for playing fields. For now, this issue remains a grey area.

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