A FORMER Devizes School, where children were taught for more than 140 years, is now to be turned into 26 homes.

Wiltshire Council has given outline planning permission for the former St Peter's Primary in Bath Road, which backs on to the Kennet and Avon Canal, to be developed.

The old school that originally opened in 1870 will be converted and extra homes will be built at the back. Access on to Bath Road will also be modified as part of the plan.

The site is owned by the Diocesan Board of Education and will now be marketed with planning permission by Savills.

Paul Spong, from Savills South Coast Development, said: "Since the school moved to the Trinity School at Quakers Walk in 2012, the site has deteriorated and become something of an eyesore, so I’m sure residents of Devizes will all welcome the redevelopment of this important local landmark site.

"We are expecting it to generate considerable interest from the market, largely due to the site’s location in the town and proximity to the canal."

His firm will be accepting best and final offers for the 1.85 acre site, which includes the main school block, additional outbuildings, classrooms, playground, field and a car park, until noon on July 10.

Devizes Town Council did not object to the plans and Devizes Trust wrote to Wiltshire Council to applaud the architects for their sensitive approach to developing the building.

In a letter it said: "The proposed property density suits the site and provides a good number of dwellings that supports the Devizes Neighbourhood plan in utilising a brown-field site. Circulation space appears suitable giving an open

feel to the development and enhances the canal side view as well.

"We are delighted that the developers in this case have found a way of keeping the school main structure which is vital to preserve the ethos of the town."

The original St Peter's National School opened in 1870, four years after the church of the same name, the town's fourth Anglican church, was built next door.

As new homes sprang up along Bath Road and Avon Road, the school prospered, moving into the adjoining Edwardian grammar school buildings when it moved to the Green.

The school had a history of long-serving head teachers. Percival Greed, who was mayor of Devizes twice, was headmaster at St Peter's for 38 years between 1932 and 1970, replacing another long-serving head, Sammy White.

But by 2004 numbers at the school had fallen dramatically and it was decided a new school would be built on the other side of town as part of the new Quakers Walk development.