A school’s plan to sell land to fund a sports centre has raised concern among some residents, but the school says the response so far has been mostly positive.

Reading School says its current sports facilities at Erleigh Road and Morgan Road Playing Fields fall short of modern standards and it currently has no sports centre at the school.

It wants to sell part of the playing fields it owns at Morgan Road to fund a new indoor sports centre at the main Erleigh Road campus, as well as new facilities at Morgan Road Playing Fields, including a 3G pitch.

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The school is holding a six-week consultation with nearby residents, parents and pupils, the council and other local schools on the plans to sell part of the playing fields to fund sport improvements.

The Morgan Road Residents Group wrote to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), raising several concerns about the plans, including:

  • The potential removal of natural open space if the land – which they say was gifted to the citizens of Reading in 1920 – were to be built on
  • Worry the site will be turned into 60+ homes
  • Damage to the Conservation Area
  • The 3G pitch, which will be available to the community out-of-hours, being more intensive use of the land – they say this would increase parking demands, evening noise and add floodlights as well as damaging the natural environment

A spokesman for the group said: “This would effectively remove the last natural open-space from Sir John Kendrick’s historic Crown Fields estate.

“Most of these were sold for residential development on a planned basis at the start of the last century – the exception being this playing field that was conveyed to the Mayor and citizens of Reading in 1920, on a safeguarded basis.

“We can see that a likely development of 60 or so dwellings on the sold-off land will involve massive increases in local traffic levels via a new road access to Morgan Road.

“And that more intensive and ‘community’ use of an all-weather pitch would also involve more parking demands, evening noise, and unacceptably intrusive floodlighting – not to mention damage to the natural environment and well- known health hazards from rubberised 3G pitches.”

And they say there is a “very general and strong opposition to the plans, which are seen to be very damaging to the neighbourhood, and completely unacceptable on land within a formally designated Conservation Area”.

But Bob Kenwrick, chair of governors at Reading School, said the response so far, with over 250 online comments received, has been “very positive”.

He said: “The vast majority express strong support for the sport improvement plans and for using the proceeds of any sale to fund them.

“Some concerns have been raised and alternatives suggested, and we will look at all of these very seriously before we proceed.

“At this point however, it is far too early to speculate about the impact of any development either at Morgan Road or the main school site.

“We will of course keep residents informed about the proposal and ensure that they have the opportunity to have their say.”

The school says it has lots of outdoor sports space but a lack of indoor facilities.

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For example, its badminton team are national champions but do not have a badminton court.

The sale would also allow it to build “desperately-needed” changing facilities at Morgan Road Playing Fields and to renovate the school’s swimming pool.

As part of the consultation – which you can view here – Reading School is asking other schools in the area if they require additional land.

According to the school, three-quarters of respondents so far have backed the sale of the land.

If the DfE allows the sale of the part of land Reading School no longer wants, the site would be opened up to offers, but any development on the land would require planning permission from Reading Borough Council (RBC) and prior consultation with residents, neighbours, and the broader community.