Plans to convert a derelict school into housing have moved a step closer after the government FINALLY agreed to transfer the site to the county council.

County Hall first revealed its proposals to transform the former Woodside Primary and Nursery School in Firs Road, Hethersett, into homes for people with care and support needs back in 2022. 

Since then, little progress has been made and the project has been on hold while the Department for Education (DfE) reviewed the authority's change-of-use application

Norwich Evening News: The plans were first lodged in 2022The plans were first lodged in 2022 (Image: Peter Steward)

But now - more than two years on - the DfE has finally announced that education secretary Gillian Keegan has granted consent to transfer the space to Norfolk County Council - with a spokeswoman confirming there is "no further school need" for the site.

Woodside Primary and Nursery School has been empty since its staff and pupils moved to new premises in Coachmaker Way in 2020. 

In May last year, the building was set alight during an arson attack, with police subsequently launching an arson investigation.

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The fire saw an outbuilding on the 1.3-acre site become engulfed in flames - with thick smoke billowing into the sky.

Norwich Evening News: The former school was hit by an arson attack last yearThe former school was hit by an arson attack last year (Image: Sydney Jones)

Locals reported at the time that people were regularly seen on the disused site.

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Bosses at County Hall have declined to comment on the future of the building and playing fields, but it is understood the authority is continuing to investigate whether the site is a viable option for an affordable specialist housing scheme for local people with care and support needs.

Norwich Evening News: Education secretary Gillian KeeganEducation secretary Gillian Keegan (Image: PA Wire)

The development would include a mix of apartments to support independent living for older people along with housing for people with disabilities.

If the plans fail to come to fruition, it is believed the county council could put the land up for sale on the open market.