WORRIED residents claim plans by a private school for a floodlit sports pitch could lead to hundreds of house being built on their doorstep.
Luckley School in Wokingham has submitted proposals for an all-weather fenced facility behind its main buildings.
However, locals claim the plans would not only affect their quality of life, it could also change the nature of the neighbouring land allowing it to be used for housing.
They have also accused Luckley School of “betrayal” after it joined objections just two years ago when Gladman applied for planning permission on behalf of Brooklands Investments to build up to 250 houses on countryside east of Finchampstead Road.
Objectors claim Brooklands Investments may have gifted Luckley a large piece of land to build their sports pitch.
“The local community finds this strange when up until very recently the school was strenuously campaigning against Brooklands Investment’s attempt to develop the land with the assistance of Gladman but has now been offered the gift of one hectare of adjacent countryside,” said a resident who did not want to be named.
“Over 600 objections were received by planners to the original plans for houses. Two important reasons for the refusal were that the site had only a single access and was isolated from the neighbouring housing.
“However, if the all weather pitches get the go ahead, that could change things dramatically and might make it more likely that housing would get approved in the future. We would like Luckley School to tell us why they seem to be accepting the land from Brooklands. We have asked but have not been given the courtesy of a reply.”
In a brief statement, Luckley School told The Wokingham Paper: “The existing school facilities are used extensively by the local community and Evendons School and it is our intention to make the proposed all-weather pitch available in the same way within any parameters set by the planning authority.”
In an angry response a spokesperson for Save Woodcray Countryside Group fumed: “Is that the best they could do?
“No mention of the blight to their neighbours properties, the light pollution from 12 metre high flood lights, the noise pollution from the pitch being used until 10pm, the loss of TPO trees, the damage to a natural environment or their total failure to engage with ‘the local community and their immediate neighbours’ prior to (or even after) making this application?
“This statement is wholly inadequate and fails to address local residents’ legitimate concerns. We find this response very disappointing from a school which claims to pride itself on being a good neighbour.”
The Denby Residents Association was equally scathing: “It is extremely disappointing that as both a neighbour and member of the residents association that the school did not have the decency to engage prior to the application being submitted.
“It is also deeply concerning that there appears to be some arrangement with the owner of Woodcray Meadows countryside as they would not be giving the school 8,000 sq metres of field for nothing.”
The local resident added: “If the school wishes to make the facility available in the same way as today, why are they proposing floodlights and with community access up to 10pm at night, seven days a week; this is a complete change in use of the existing outdoor facility.
“They have also chosen not to comment on the 8,000sqm of land being given by the owner of Woodcray Meadows countryside, why is this?”
The Wokingham Paper contacted Gladman for comment but they had not responded as we went to press.
To see the planning application, click here