THE site of a scandal-hit former boarding school could be turned into a retirement village when it goes before planners next week.

Audley Retirement Villages wants to develop the former Stanbridge Earls School site to provide a 155-unit care community for older people.

The company hopes to get permission when it goes before Test Valley borough councillors at Crosfield Hall on Tuesday, after buying the site last year for £10million.

Currently, planning officers have marked the application for approval, and many are happy to see the plans go forward.

David Childs, director of the Stanbridge Lakes Management Company (run by nine of the closest residential neighbours to the subject site) said in a letter to the council: “We feel that Audley have been put through the mill with this application and responded well to representations from all directions (including some people who wouldn’t be happy unless the site was returned to open fields) and having to deal with self appointed ‘panels’ run by locals with narrow vested interests.

“We therefore believe the time has come for this scheme to be approved, so ending years of uncertainty over the site’s future and enabling much needed new facilities to be brought forward.”

The grade II listed Tudor manor house will 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.”

Speaking about the application going before the panel, Romsey borough councillor Mark Cooper added: “The Stanbridge Earls planning application has had a very long gestation but it is important to get the details absolutely right because preserving the setting of the listed building is paramount.

“Equally, the removal of the clutter of obsolete school buildings is patently a planning gain. I’m looking forward to the debate on the application next Tuesday.”

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.

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