A MASSIVE letter-writing campaign is under way to secure a home to build a new secondary school for west Reading.

The West Reading Education Network (WREN) has cross-party political support but first it has to block a scheme to build homes on the former Elvian School campus.

WREN have a Government green light to open in September next year and members want to bombard the Planning Inspectorate with at least 1,500 objections to proposals for 193 homes on the Southcote Lane site, urging supporters to sign up friends and family to the cause.

Taylor Wimpey has an agreement with the land owner, Ascot-based Licensed Victuallers' School, to buy the site subject to planning permission and is appealing against Reading Borough Council's decision to throw out its proposals. The agreement expires in September, the same month as the case goes before a planning inspector.

Reading West Tory MP Alok Sharma said: "We really need to get lots and lots and lots of people writing in to the planning inspectorate to oppose this development. The strength of how people feel locally is so important."

The borough's Labour education boss, Cllr John Ennis, added: "I fully support WREN's campaign to get a school back on the Elvian site. We as a council made that plain. We've designated that land as a school and said it's very important because of the need for more school places in the area. People should be in no doubt that the council fully support you on this."

They were speaking at Southcote Primary School last Wednesday when more than 40 WREN members kickstarted their bid to ensure the one-time Presentation College site remains a school.

Project co-leader Mischa Tytel said: "We came together as a community to make a new school and that was amazing. There's a very strong feeling as a community that people want to keep the Elvian site as a school, so we need your help to make that happen."

Sia Israel added: "We want a school that's going to be inclusive for the whole community and we're building a brand new school. That means we get to decide what we want and what we don't.

"I want a school where I don't have to go through this massive application process and that my daughter is going to be happy at. For me it's an absolute no-brainer. We don't need the houses but we do need the school."