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Council agrees to sell land to Heights school
Published 21/12/16

A NEW school is set to be built on a public sports ground in Caversham.

Reading Borough Council has agreed to sell a section of Mapledurham playing fields, off Woodcote Road, as a permanent site for the Heights Free School.

The Education Funding Agency will pay £1.36million for a 2.393-acre plot at the north-western corner of the site, although the school only requires 1.231 acres. It asked for a larger plot in case it had to change the school's layout during the planning process.

The agency hasnít given specific details of how the development will look but has promised to preserve access to the playing fields and sports pavilion. A planning application is yet to be submitted.

The borough council, which is a trustee of the charity that looks after the site, will commission an independent report on the implications of the proposal and consult the public, the charity's management committee and the Charity Commission.

The fields were by far the most popular out of five sites put out to public consultation last year. The agency says it is offering much more than the land's market value of £30,755 and the extra money could be used to improve the fields.

It also says the school hall and multi-use games area could be used by the community.

But the Mapledurham Playing Fields Action Group, which is made up of residents, clubs and groups who use the fields, says the sale would breach a covenant established when the land was gifted to the community for leisure purposes by Charles Hewett in 1938.

It has set up a "fighting fund" to launch a legal challenge against the proposal.

The school, which is based at temporary premises off Gosbrook Road, was opened in September 2014 in response to growing pressure on places in Caversham. It initially taught about 75 pupils but is continually growing and aims to have 350 by 2020.

Published 21/12/16

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