Fight continues against Rokeby Fields plan

Protesters fighting to save Rokeby Playing Fields are urging residents to oppose a planning application to build two schools on the site.

Friday, 9th December 2016, 8:39 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 12:39 pm
Rokeby Field footballers protest NNL-160107-180343001

Officials working for the government’s Education Funding Agency (EFA) lodged a planning application with Warwickshire County Council last week to build two free schools on Rokeby Playing Fields.

The three buildings proposed would house 80 special needs pupils from McIntyre Academy and 1,470 pupils from Rugby Free Secondary School. The plans leave a small corner of the playing field for public use.

Campaigners have been battling against the proposals to build the schools on the field for months, saying that it would take away a valuable amenity used by the community. And they have vowed to keep up the pressure in light of the latest development.

Sally Chant, chair of SHARE – Sustainable Hillside and Rokeby Education, said “The EFA has jumped the gun in applying for planning permission for two new schools when the county council is still considering whether Rokeby Playing Fields should be registered as a Town Green.

“Three years ago Rugby Borough Council voted to allow ‘at least’ one secondary school on the Rugby Radio Masts site. The EFA should use the planning permission for that school before it tries to grab public open space.

“The fact that Rugby Borough Council has designated Rokeby Playing Fields as an open-space asset has been completely ignored by the planning application. This designation puts any proposals in direct contravention of national and local planning policy.” 

Local resident Michelle Lines said: “They are planning to employ 169 staff on site but are only planning to provide 152 car parking spaces. Every morning we are likely to see a game of musical chairs with the unlucky members of staff struggling to find a place to park on residential streets.

“With a fifth of Rugby Free Secondary School’s pupils coming from the Daventry area we will see hundreds of extra cars on our roads. Our estate was not designed to cope with this level of traffic.”

Local Lib Dem councillor Bill Lewis added: “The government officials behind this application clearly know very little about Rugby. They say that Twickenham Fields off Overslade Lane are public open space when they are owned by Harris School and that Bilton School doesn’t have a sixth form.

“They clearly don’t realise the main need for secondary places is in the north of Rugby where all the new building is taking place.”

SHARE said it plans to drum up opposition to the plans by leafleting Rokeby and Hillside. It will also be running drop-in clinics for people who want to object, along the lines of those organised by About Turn in connection with the Local Plan.