“OPPORTUNITIES to secure sites like this in Dorset are rare."

Dorset Council has purchased the closed St Mary's School near Shaftesbury.

On July 15 the school had confirmed it was shutting permanently with immediate effect, but the county council has now secured the site and will be engaging with residents and stakeholders "shortly".

As previously reported, within 24 hours of the school's closure a committee was formed to rescue the school, made up of parents, staff and alumnae. An online fundraiser was launched with a target of £1.5million.

Despite investment plans and more than £250,000 raised however, with the public Go Fund Me page reaching more than £31,000, the school had not secured enough pupil admissions for the autumn term, as a result of administration talks.

Since then the school confirmed it would not be reopening in September, and the site was put up for sale with real estate company Savills.

It has now been revealed that the county council has purchased the St Mary's site with hopes it can remain "an asset to the community".

Councillor Tony Ferrari, Dorset Council, finance, commercial and assets portfolio holder, said: “Opportunities to secure sites like this in Dorset are rare. We are always looking at ways of improving delivery of services for Dorset children and adults and the purchase of the St Mary’s site near Shaftesbury will help us achieve that.

"Following a successful purchase, we will be engaging with local people and stakeholders for their views on the options for use of the site. We are however very ambitious for the site and are determined that it should remain an asset to our community.

"More information about how local people and stakeholders can contribute their views will be shared shortly.”