A SCANDAL-hit former boarding school in Hampshire could be turned into a retirement village, the Daily Echo can reveal.

Audley Retirement Villages wants to develop the former Stanbridge Earls School site into homes for the over- 55s after buying it for £10million.

The company hopes to get permission to build about 100 homes, made up of one, two and three-bedroom apartments and cottages at the six-acre site.

A spokesman for Audley Retirement Villages said the grade II* listed Tudor manor house will be “sympathetically restored” to become a club with a swimming pool, health club, restaurant and bar/bistro for owners and the wider community.

Nick Sanderson, chief executive of Audley said: “Our agreement to buy the Romsey site marks an exciting milestone for Audley. Our exemplary record in securing planning permission comes from our commitment to work closely with the local community and stakeholders.

“We look forward to opening our 13th luxury retirement village and our first on the South coast. Retirement as we know it continues to change; therefore we must not just meet, but exceed, the ambitions of a discerning and rapidly growing demographic.

“The Audley proposition is designed for the aspirations of the over 55s, providing exceptional quality living and the lifestyle this important demographic deserves. Alongside superior design and the Audley Club, which includes a restaurant, swimming pool and gym, we offer flexible care.

“Audley is an accredited care provider and regularly audited by the Care Quality Commission, meaning an Audley property is truly the owner’s for life.”

The £39,000-a-year independent school was heavily criticised in a series of major reviews for failings which included failing to protect some vulnerable young female students.

It closed following sex abuse claims when it failed to enrol new students.

In early 2013 a Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal found that the school had discriminated against a girl and that staff members failed to tell the youngster's parents that she had complained of pain in an intimate part of her body.

It raised concerns about the way the school had dealt with claims that a 15-year-old girl had been raped and a 12-year-old had also been sexually assaulted.

An Ofsted review also uncovered serious care failings, saying that children "remained unsafe" due to leadership and governance weaknesses, and the Department for Education then rejected an action plan put forward by school chiefs.

A Hampshire police investigation resulted in the Crown Prosecution Service saying there was not enough evidence to charge ten students of sexual abuse, but former student Gareth Stephenson was given a two-year suspended sentence after admitting sexually assaulting another boy.

A serious case review launched by the independent Hampshire Safeguarding Children Board found that there had been a "lack of alertness" to safeguarding issues and related incidents, and a failure to keep parents properly informed that may have arisen from a failure to grasp the seriousness of matters.

It also said that the school had failed to recognise that sexual activity between children might raise safeguarding concerns and to keep other agencies aware of concerns.

The review also found weaknesses in administration and confusion about confidentiality which was used to excuse failure to take essential action.

Trustees of the school had sold the site in the summer of 2014 to a “private purchaser” who then sold it to Audley.