Tuesday, 01 December 2020

Public favour playing fields for new school

MAPLEDURHAM playing fields have emerged as the public's preferred location for a new free school in Caversham

MAPLEDURHAM playing fields have emerged as the public's preferred location for a new free school in Caversham.

In a consultation on a permanent home for the Heights Primary School, more people supported building on the land off Woodcote Road than the four other sites.

Of the 4,376 residents who took part, 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 1,157 people with 2,383 people against.

Next came land belonging to Dyson's Wood Farm, which is in South Oxfordshire, with 1,075 supporters and 2,213 opponents.

Fourth was Bugs Bottom, a large green space off the Hunters Chase estate, with 1,010 people in favour and 2,739 against.

The least popular choice was Albert Road recreation ground with 3,589 objections and just 377 people in favour.

The consultation was conducted by Reading Borough Council on behalf of the Education Funding Agency, which will announce its final decision next month.

The agency bought the High Ridge site before public outcry forced it consider other sites and hold the public consultation.

Whichever site its chosen, planning permission will be required for the school, which is currently operating from a temporary site off Gosbrook Road in Lower Caversham.

If the agency opts for the Mapledurham playing fields, it could face a legal challenge as the land was gifted to the community in trust for leisure purposes in 1938.

The new school was founded by a group of parents who were concerned at the lack of school places in west Caversham and opened in September.

A borough council spokeswoman said: "The full results of the consultation have been passed to the Education Funding Agency for it to determine which site, if any, it wishes to pursue.

"The council is grateful to every resident who took the time to have their say in this important community consultation."

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