Anger over school’s plan to build housing estate on ‘one of Cheltenham’s best playing fields’
Residents object to Pittville School’s proposal to pay for a new sports hall and all-weather pitch by selling land to developers
Pittville School’s plans to pay for a proposed new indoor sports hall by selling one of its playing fields for housing has angered residents.
Lioncourt Homes (Development No.1) Limited has submitted a planning application to Cheltenham Borough Council to build up to 58 homes on the field at the northern end of the school site. Outline permission was granted for the development in 2016, and the company is now pushing for full planning permission.
The school, in Albert Road, Cheltenham, says it needs the proceeds of the sale to pay for the new sports hall, 3G all-weather football pitch and tennis courts it hopes to create.
It says its current sporting facilities need to be improved and modernised.
But the scheme, which proved controversial in 2016, is ruffling feathers again.
Comments have been lodged on the council’s website by people who are against the idea. Some believe the playing field could be used by pupils, as it was in the past.
One person said: “It is a disgrace that a very good playing field (one of the best in Cheltenham) should be sold off to build houses.”
Another resident said: “I would hope that the school reconsiders its rather odd decision to reduce the outdoor space available to its pupils in favour of artificial and indoor options.”
And another person accused the school of deliberately stopping children’s sporting activities on the playing field, which is the smaller of the two on the school’s site, in order to sell it off.
The resident said: “It is now clear that this was a deliberate, calculated and callous ploy by Pittville School to claim that the playing field was surplus to requirements so that it could apply for permission for the field to be sold to fund the new sports hall project.”
The resident added: “Whilst I appreciate that the current sporting facilities may need updating, it does beg the question whether the school actually needs an upgrade to such an extent that will require the sale of the North playing field in order to fund the project.”
Comments from residents also raised the prospect of the development causing traffic problems in the area, where new houses are being built off New Barn Lane.
In a report in its planning application, the developer said the playing field earmarked for the 58 homes had not been used since 2009.
And the school also said it had not been used for a long time.
Business manager Amanda Peck said: “It’s a piece of unused land. It’s a playing field, technically, but it hasn’t been used for many years.”
She added: “The sporting facilities that we currently have were the original gym facilities when the school was built. They’re not modern and need considerably updating.”
Mrs Peck said the planned development was “very important for the school” and she said it had worked very hard to take on board objections that had been made in 2016.
She said the sports hall project would cost between £5million and £5.2million.
And she said it was hoped building work on the sports hall and the new homes would start at the same time - in August or September this year.