Monday, 17 January 2022

Plans for relocation to playing fields despite opposition

DETAILED plans for the Heights Primary School’s relocation have been drawn up.

The Education Funding Agency wants to create a permanent site for the primary at Mapledurham playing fields, off Woodcote Road, Caversham.

Reading Borough Council has been offered £1.36million to sell a 2.4 acre section at the north-west corner of the site.

Now architects T P Bennett have produced detailed plans for the new school on behalf of the agency.

These include a two-storey building with a multi-use hall with out-of-hours community use, an external Key Stage 1 play and external learning area, soft and hard informal play and learning areas, fenced and floodlit multi-use games area, 20 car parking spaces, 34 cycle spaces and 24 scooter spaces.

The new school, which is currently at a temporary base in Lower Caversham, would have up to 350 pupils by 2020 and as many as 35 full-time staff.

The plans say: “The provision of new school facilities on this site would meet an established need for additional primary school places in the Caversham Heights area.

“At present, the school is located outside its catchment and its temporary home is too small to accommodate its ultimate capacity. The agency and borough council have carried out an extensive site search exercise and consulted on a shortlist of five potential sites within the catchment area.”

The document says the playing fields are the only suitable site, subject to the relevant agreement of the council as trustees and the “beneficiaries (local people)”.

It says: “The scheme is an appropriate form of development on this site. The proposed use of an open space site is justified in policy terms given the need for additional primary school places in this part of Reading, the lack of alternative suitable sites and a package of the Heights Primary School enhancements to the recreational facilities on the site. It accords with all other provisions of the development plan and any adverse impacts can be satisfactorily mitigated.”

The school has been based in Gosbrook Road since opening in 2014 to ease pressure on school places in Caversham.

Campaigners opposed to the sale of playing fields say it would breach a covenant established when the land was gifted to the community in 1938.

Fit4All, a group made up of residents, clubs and users of the fields, says: “Mapledurham playing fields could be radically enhanced, without the need to sell land to raise funds, if the constraints were removed and volunteering allowed to flourish.”

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