VILLAGERS are at war with one another over fears that plans for a new £8m school could be given the green light.

A parish poll on March 15 will determine if Theale Parish Council should release North Street Playing Fields to the district council.

Residents fear they will 'lose their village' and feel that the proposed site would be unsuitable due to narrow access, lack of a suitable crossing and 30mph speed limits.

While they are not against the idea of the new school, they feel West Berkshire Council will take away valuable recreation and green space.

Paula Crawford, one of the concerned residents, said: "Any traditional villager will tell you that Englefield Road is the most ridiculous site for this school.

"It has caused so much division. There is a lot of tension in the village. I understand why the parents feel strongly about this, but they are not thinking about the future."

Reading Chronicle:

The plans for the new school have come under criticism

As well as having concerns about the proposed site for the school, there are fears that the replacement pitches will not be up to standard and will be too small for adult teams.

The Football Association said the proposed replacement site near Theale Golf Club will take three years before the agricultural land could be used for sport and recreation.

West Berkshire Council (WBC) approved the application for the new school after Sport England raised concerns and Thames Valley Police has recommended reducing the speed limit on Englefield Road.

Melanie Paul, another resident, added: "My biggest concern is what WBC regard as replacement land as part of their own core strategy.

"What they have offered is half the size. In May 2013, the villagers were fighting to keep this field. We fought tooth and nail."

If the villagers vote 'Yes' in the parish poll, it is thought the new 315-space school could be built by 2020.

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Alok Sharma attended a recent meeting at the village hall

Several alternative sites were considered for the new school to relieve the strain on the oversubscribed places and planning permission has been granted for the new school and for the replacement land to be used for recreation.

Lynne Doherty, executive member for Education, said: "Theale Tigers categorically stated that the changes will enable them to continue to play football and they are in favour of the school.

"It is a shame that the community is divided and there are a lot of people against the scheme. We have really tried to be open and transparent with people by answering any questions that people might have.

"Safety was raised as a concern and we have had an independent survery done. We are putting considerable measures in place, including increasing the width of the pavement.

"For me, the education of Theale is the most important thing and I think the school would be the best thing for this site."

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