Saturday, 13 August 2022

We've been seeking alternatives for 50 years, says head

SHIPLAKE College headmaster Gregg Davies said the school’s current pitches were not fit for purpose.

He said: “We have lost quite a lot of time because they are too dangerous to play on if there’s a lot of water on there. Even if it doesn’t look like it’s flooded you put your foot down and it goes a down an inch or two into water.

“For 50 years we have been looking for alternatives. This area is not, in any way, our preferred choice, it’s Hobson’s choice. We have got nowhere else to go actually.”

Mr Davies said that unless the college secured a proper crossing on the A4155, it would not even submit a planning application.

“I cannot have pupils crossing the A4155 by doing the Blue Cross Code,” he said.

The crossing would have to be funded by the school and through sponsorship as Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, had said it had no budget for the work.

Mr Davies said the public footpath linking the A4155 with Orchard Close was one of four possible routes the college was considering but that he understood residents’ concerns.

“This is why we wanted this consultation,” he said. “We have never said that’s our sole route. We can also quite understand if you have bought a house in Orchard Close that you don’t want people parking outside.

“There’s talk about noise but they [the pitches] are going to be used for one-and-a-half hours four times a week, between 3pm and 4.30pm when most people are at work, not in the evenings.

“The Memorial Field, which is next to the Memorial Hall, is already used so the noise is there already.”

He said the pitches would be 250m away from the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the goal line would be 35m from the edge of the field.

There would be a hedge and residents of Memorial Avenue would not be able to see the pitches from their ground floor.

On the impact on wildlife, he said: “I think that is a fair point but it’s an awfully big area and we talking about taking a little bit.”

Mr Davies added: “We really welcome feedback and we’re not going to put anything in until we have gone through those questions.

“We’re going to go back to the community with our answers to see what they think.”

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