School could sell £500,000 field for homes development

Spalding Grammar School's West Field, off St Thomas's Road

Spalding Grammar School's West Field, off St Thomas's Road

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A PRIME town centre school playing field could be sold off to make way for up to 45 new homes.

Governors at Spalding’s Grammar School are in the early stages of looking at options for the West Field, in St Thomas’s Road, which could include selling it to finance an all-weather pitch.

Spalding Grammar School

Spalding Grammar School

A ballpark figure for the value of the site has been put at around £500,000.

At a meeting last week, the board of governors of the Priory Road school sat through a presentation by Lindum Construction outlining what was possible for the one and a half hectare site, but members were quick to say that no decision had yet been made.

Instead a working party has been set up to look more closely at the idea, as well as alternatives such as securing grant funding for the all-weather pitch.

The move comes hot on the heels of eight redundancies of teaching and support staff at Spalding Grammar School, prompting one parent to contact the Lincolnshire Free Press to raise concerns about the school’s financial situation.

The parent, who did not wish to be named, said: “My son is good at sports and is totally gutted that the school is considering selling off that area.

“I am horrified that the school would sell off open space.”

He claimed a variety of ideas have been put forward because the school needs to raise capital. He fears that it’s running short of money.

Headteacher Nigel Ryan was quick to allay concerns, saying: “This school’s finances are healthy and we are in a strong position to move forward.

“We have a really strong, committed and supportive staff and our results are good.

“We have restructured some of our staff to be able to work more efficiently in the 21st century.”

Mr Ryan confirmed that there had been two compulsory redundancies at the school, as well as six voluntary redundancies, including three part-timers, but said that considering the future of West Field was unconnected and was simply the governors looking at assets and ways of achieving financing for an all-weather pitch.

Howard Johnson, who is on the board of governors and also a South Holland district councillor, said: “At this early stage we are just looking at what is possible for the site.

“The school does need an all-weather pitch but it’s just a question of where the funds come from and this is just one of the options.

“My view is that once West Field has been sold, it has been sold and won’t come back but there will be arguments for and against selling it off.

“It is a well-used area by students, as well as the rugby club and a very popular car boot sale, and whatever happens there would need to be a consultation with everyone affected.

“We would need to be sure that whatever happens has to be for the benefit of not only the school, but for the whole community.”

But coach/co-ordinator for mini youth rugby at Spalding Rugby Club, Jeremy Chew, said a decision to sell the field could affect the future of the game in Spalding.

He said: “We have between 250 and 300 children and more than 30 coaches, but if the West Field is sold, potentially we would not be able to continue to deliver.

“I just hope that if they do decide to do something that they consult with parents, kids and the rugby club.”