Playing fields could be lost to development - concern by local head teacher
7th September 2012
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More playing fields could be lost to make way for development according to a worried head teacher.

Andrew Tibble, principal at Ewell Castle School, is concerned that a consultation by Epsom and Ewell Council on its development policies launched in July, have the potential to weaken the protection offered to open spaces and playing fields in the borough.

The consultation, which ends tomorrow, is proposing a new criteria-based policy for open spaces which would introduce "exceptional circumstances when the loss of open spaces might be considered acceptable".

The paper states that an exceptional circumstance may be "when a proposal that includes the loss of recreational land includes suitable replacement provision within the locality, facilities are to be co-located, replaced or are proven to be surplus to requirements with no demand for any other recreational use".

It states: "This policy would contribute towards our objectives by providing some flexibility - provides an opportunity to deliver improved provision."

Mr Tibble, an ex-sports teacher and Chairman of Beddington Cricket Club in Sutton, said: "As a headteacher, and as someone heavily involved in sports clubs, I have an interest in the preservation of school fields. 

“Seeing the words ‘more flexibility’ rang alarm bells.  It is opening a door. 

"To me it means they are trying to facilitate development and is too much of a weakening of the protection of open spaces and playing fields.

"The timing of this consultation is ironic as the Government now wants to clamp down on protecting open spaces for sport since we have all been inspired by the Olympics and its legacy."

The headteacher said an example of the loss which a weakening of protection could bring is the Old Schools Lane playing field site. 

See full article from Hardeep Matharu at surreycomet

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