A senior councillor has ruled out selling a prime piece of land for housing to salvage a £6 million scheme for a new school.

People at Chichester are still reeling over the news that the city will not now get a leisure park complex.

The complex, which has planning permission, was to have been built on the 17-acre site of Chichester High School for Girls in Stockbridge Road.

In return, West Sussex County Council was to have used £6 million from the sale of the land to build a modern new school for all 1,500 girls on another campus nearby.

The deal fell through on Tuesday when the council refused to accept a reduced purchase price for the site requested by the developers because of a slump in the leisure industry.

The council has defended the decision saying the gap was millions of pounds and would not have been enough to pay for the new school.

Now Cabinet Member for Resources, Councillor Colin Waller, says it is unlikely the land could be sold for housing, even though it would attract massive interest for developers and raise more than enough money to build the new school.

He said: "Because the site is next to the A27 it is unlikely we would get planning permission for access to a housing scheme from the ring road."

Toby Baines, head of Citygrove, the development company behind the leisure park, said he still hoped a deal could be struck to save the scheme.

He said the original purchase price was negotiated in 1997 at the height of the leisure market but values had fallen significantly during the last year.

He added: "We are unable to bridge the funding gap on our own."