Saturday, 25 November 2017

Campaigners threaten legal fight over school

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to stop a new free school being built on playing fields are threatening legal action.

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to stop a new free school being built on playing fields are threatening legal action.

The Education Funding Agency is due to decide where to locate the Heights Primary School in Caversham following public consultation on five potential sites in which the most popular was Mapledurham playing fields, off Upper Woodcote Road.

Now the Mapledurham Playing Fields Action Group has written to the agency, warning that it has received legal advice from a barrister that using the site would be in breach of charity law.

The land was given to the community in trust for leisure purposes in 1938 so the agency’s decision will have to be approved by the Charity Commission. A previous bid to build a school there was defeated in 2006.

The campaign group also claims the public consultation may been have been flawed.



Chairman Martin Brommell said: “We hope this will be enough for the agency to rethink any intention it may have to site a school on the charity land.

“To reinforce the point, we now have a large number of supporters who plan to write to the agency to express their outrage that the playing fields are still under threat.

“The group is determined to fight against this completely unlawful threat and will continue to campaign until the site is safeguarded against any future threat of development.”

Of the 4,376 residents who took part in the consultation, 3,042 were in favour of the playing fields while 1,063 were against — the lowest number of objections for any site.

The second most popular choice was High Ridge, a former residential plot in Upper Warren Avenue, which was chosen by 1,157 people with 2,383 people against. The agency bought High Ridge before public outcry forced it to consider other sites.

The school is currently operating from a temporary site off Gosbrook Road in Lower Caversham.



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