Sunday, 27 May 2018

We want playing fields, not cash from school, says campaign group

CAMPAIGNERS say they don’t need to sell part of playing fields to build a school as

CAMPAIGNERS say they don’t need to sell part of playing fields to build a school as they can raise the money for improvements themselves.

The Education Funding Agency has offered Reading Borough Council £1.36million to buy a section of Mapledurham playing fields in Caversham as a permanent site for the Heights Primary School. 

The agency says this money could be put towards new public facilities at the site.

But Fit4All, a campaign group made up of residents, clubs and groups who use the fields, says they don’t need to sell the land.

In a leaflet distributed to homes in Caversham, it says the playing fields could be “radically enhanced” if volunteering is allowed to flourish.

Warren and District Residents Association has raised £185,000 to restore the run-down pavilion on the site but the work is being delayed while Reading Borough Council considers the agency’s offer.

Caversham Trents Football Club and Mapledurham Lawn Tennis Club want to expand and the Friends of Mapledurham Playing Fields hope to have the land awarded local nature reserve status.

Fit4All says it would restore the pavilion, build new changing rooms that meet Football Association regulations, improve drainage and relocate the playground.

The agency wants 2.696 acres of land even though the school would only require 1.231 acres. It says: “This is to avoid a situation where any modifications to the agency’s design would then require it to re-enter negotiations to secure a slightly different part of the site.” 

It says the school facilities, such as a multi-use games area, car park and school hall, could be used by the whole community. 

The agency says the land is worth £30,755 but it added another £1.33 million to the offer to “ensure the development of the school is able to enhance the provision of sport and recreation on the playing fields as a whole”.

The council has to decide whether to accept to offer by October 14.

The school has been at a temporary site in Gosbrook Road, Lower Caversham, since it opened in 2014. 

The playing fields, off Woodcote Road, were chosen as the preferred permanent site out of five possible locations following public consultation last year. 

The campaigners oppose the sale, saying it would be in breach of a covenant put in place when the land was gifted to the community for leisure purposes by Charles Hewett in 1938. 

Fit4All wants residents to register their support for “making Mapledurham playing fields fit for all without losing land”. To register support, call Gordon Watt on 07957 481133 or email “me too” to

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