School sports area is approved but neighbours are dismayed

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Neighbours of a Northampton primary school are dismayed after planning permission was awarded for a new sports area next to their gardens.

Delapre Primary School submitted an application to turn its memorial garden into a multi-use games area (MUGA).

But locals are up in arms as they say they donated the land to the school in 1995 as an access route to the playing fields. Now they say their views will be spoiled and the properties could be damaged by stray footballs.

The matter had been referred to the planning committee by Delapre ward councillor Julie Davenport, who had previously said residents felt ‘stabbed in the back’ by the school’s plans having handed over the land more than two decades ago.

Making the case for the MUGA to be built, the school’s deputy head teacher Stephen Casey told councillors on the planning committee: “Over the past six years our school has expanded massively, with a 50 per cent increase in numbers. There’s a need for more play areas for the children.

“It’s not the school’s intention for the MUGA to be used outside school operating hours.”

The school has set up a crowdfunding page to raise £100,000 to build the games area, which forms part of its bid to promote health through sport and have ‘a positive effect’ on the lives of children.

But resident Andy Oliver said neighbours adjacent to the plot of land had not been spoken to, saying: “The school has been planning this for over 12 months and it can only be a conscious decision not to consult us. The land was sold 23 years ago when the school was looking for access.”

Councillors on the planning committee approved the building of the MUGA in a tense meeting on Tuesday night (July 3) at the Guildhall.

But they attached a condition to approval that the MUGA would only be used between 8am and 6pm on Monday to Fridays, and at no times on Saturdays, Sundays and outside school term time.