Tories angry over school field sale

FRUSTRATED with the burden of managing an Ipswich playing field, owner Chantry High School is adamant the popular play space should be sold.Chantry High in Mallard Way, is keen to sell Ellenbrook Road Playing Field.

FRUSTRATED with the burden of managing an Ipswich playing field, owner Chantry High School is adamant the popular play space should be sold.

Chantry High in Mallard Way, is keen to sell Ellenbrook Road Playing Field.

The school backs Suffolk County Council's planning application to develop seven houses on the playing field, and transfer ownership of the rest to Ipswich Borough Council to be kept as play space.

The idea comes in the face of staunch opposition from Ipswich Conservatives.

Anne Rickwood, headteacher of Chantry High, said: "Even though the playing field is about a mile away and has not been used by us for about 20 years, the upkeep falls to the school.

"People use the field to walk their dogs, even though they should not - and then leave carrier bags of dog mess on the fence. The school has to clean it up."

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Chantry High wants to sell the playing field and use the money to fund new school and community sports facilities.

The plan is to build an outdoor, all-weather sports pitch and a new sports clubroom, to be used by the school and local community.

Mrs Rickwood said: "The community has not got a playing field at the moment – it is a school field, which nobody should be on.

"These proposals will give people a properly-managed open play space they have every right to use, as well as new facilities on the school site."

Sue Thomas, Chantry High governor and Chantry division county councillor, added: "The playing field is a real drain on the school's resources at the moment. We therefore feel the county council's bid will be a really positive thing for the school and the community.

"But if it is not successful, we are also likely to lose lottery funding, which will jeopardise the sports facilities scheme."

Meanwhile Ipswich's Conservative Association is determined to stop houses being built on Ellenbrook Road playing field.

Spokesman Bob Hall said: "I am not opposed to Chantry High selling. I am just opposed to the development of houses, which will lead to even more pressure on doctors' surgeries, roads and schools."

The Conservative Association will present a 380-strong petition to the borough council on Tuesday and will be holding a public meeting on Wednesday at 6pm in the Belstead Arms, Ellenbrook Green, Ipswich.

The borough council, which received several written objections, is considering the planning application.

Mike Smith, the borough council's head of planning and development, said: "About a tenth of the land would be used for housing, but we don't know whether the county council proposes to use the rest of the land as a playing field or just as open space.

"In any case. it would be unlikely that seven extra houses would put undue pressure on local amenities."

The proposals are due to go before Ipswich Borough Council planning committee later this month or September.

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