500 signatures reached
To: The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Protect Mapledurham Playing Fields
Mapledurham Playing Fields is a charitable trust (304328), like many others, bequeathed exclusively for recreation but targeted as the proposed site of a free school. A planning application has been submitted, but contravenes national and local planning policy and is opposed by Sport England, Fields in Trust and the Campaign for Protection of Rural England. We want the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to call-in the application and order a public inquiry. We believe this will serve as a valuable precedent to safeguard many other parks and playing fields.
Why is this important?
A Guardian article, published in June last year, estimated that sites for a further 500 free schools are required and that most will be playing fields. Recent National Audit Office criticism of the Education Funding Authority (EFA) for overpaying for free school sites, will make playing fields an even more attractive cheap option. Although playing fields are usually protected from development by local authority planning policies, the EFA are exempt from these.
Mapledurham Playing Fields, a charitable trust bequeathed exclusively for recreation (Recreation Ground Charity #304328), is a case in point. This has been targeted by the EFA as the site of a free school. The trustee, Reading Borough Council (RBC), which is also the Local Education Authority responsible for meeting demand for school places, has given conditional approval to the plan. The EFA has submitted planning application. This contravenes national and local planning policy and is opposed by Sport England, Fields in Trust, the Campaign for Protection of Rural England, RBC's own Parks Department as well as hundreds of local residents and Playing Fields users. Nevertheless we believe that planning permission may very well be granted.
If you believe parks and playing fields should be protected and would like to add your voice in support of this test case please sign our petition.
Further information about the campaign to protect Mapledurham Playing Fields is available at www.ProtectMPF.uk or email info@ProtectMPF.uk. The planning application, which is case 171023, can be viewed in the planning applications on RBC's website at planning.reading.gov.uk
How it will be delivered
We plan to present the petition to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in person.