Residents fear the peace of their neighbourhood will be shattered if plans to open a boarding school for up to 65 troubled youngsters are approved.
Kedleston UK Ltd wants to use Kirklington Hall for 11-16 year-olds excluded from mainstream schools.
The hall already has planning permission as a residential school because it housed the former Rodney School, which closed last year. The building has since been empty.
Kedleston has applied to Newark and Sherwood District Council to alter the interior, which will be used as classrooms.
It also wants three new buildings in the grounds to create an accommodation block, kitchen and dining room.
The council is expected to make a decision in March and the school could be opened in 2009.
A petition organised by Kirklington Parish Council has already been signed by 120 villagers.
Parish councillor Mr Ian Woolridge said: “Where will the pupils go if they play truant in our village, which has no public transport, what could they do when they leave the grounds unaccompanied, and what’s to stop them leaving the grounds?”
Mr Woolridge, of Main Street, said there were also concerns the new buildings would not be in keeping with the hall and the surrounding area.
Another parish councillor, Mr David Stoakes of School Lane, shares the concerns.
He said: “They could be disruptive. They will not be under lock and key and they will be free to go into the village.
“It could be a big intrusion into a small village. There are only 300 people in the village.”
Another resident, Mrs Rae Killick of School Lane, said people were not against having a school in the village because the Rodney School was at Kirklington Hall for nearly 50 years.
She said: “Some of the children may have come from big cities. How they are going to cope with living in Kirklington I dread to think.”
The managing director of Kedleston, Mr Bob Yetzes, said councils would pay to send pupils.
He said they expected to accommodate around 40 children at first and then increase this to 65 as they added extra buildings.
He said the average class size would be around seven and the pupils would work towards GCSEs.
He said: “The children may have had a troubled background or not necessarily been in school for one reason or another. They might not get on with teachers. They might get frustrated in an ordinary classroom and misbehave, but it’s very much about fitting into the community and not being a nuisance.”
The company already runs a similar school in Cumbria called Wings and Mr Yetzes said residents had not experienced any problems there.
He said: “We don’t believe it will have an impact on the village. There is no reason for them to go into the village.
“We have a no-smoking and drinking policy and because they live with us all the time they have no opportunity to get anything.”
Mr Yetzes said the school would create 100 jobs and around 40 members of staff would be on site at one time to ensure the children did not leave.
If pupils wanted to leave the site they would have to ask permission and would travel in the school’s minibus.
More by this authorPeter Harris