School says expansion plan meets ‘huge demand’...but councillors told to reject it

Head teacher of Giles School, Old Leake, Chris Walls with Cael Atkin-Palmer (head boy) and Heidi Green (head girl) for their story about the school applying for planning permission for field.

Head teacher of Giles School, Old Leake, Chris Walls with Cael Atkin-Palmer (head boy) and Heidi Green (head girl) for their story about the school applying for planning permission for field.

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Plans to turn an agriculturland in Old Leake into a school playing field will help to meet a ‘huge demand’ for space, according to the Giles Academy.

A planning application has been submitted to Boston Borough Council to convert the 5.4 acre field, situated between School Lane and Southfield Lane, into a sports field.

When the school was first built in 1960 there were about 300 pupils – now there are just under 1,000 but the amount of playing field has not grown to accommodate them,” said head teacher Chris Walls.

“The space we have has become inadequate – and we are now in the position to be able to do something about it.”

Pupil numbers at the Academy are said to be continuing to grow – with year seven up by 20 students from the previous year.

“Primary schools are bulging so our intake will continue to go up in the next few years,” he said. “The benefits of having this additional playing field would be huge and we need to adjust for the future.”

Mr Walls also pointed to the importance of sporting activities for pupils given the ‘national obesity crisis’ and said the Academy has the backing of Sport Lincolnshire and Fields in Trust – an organisation which aims to safeguard outdoor spaces for children.

As previously reported in The Standard, a group of residents near the proposed field have formed an action group to appose the application – and submitted a petition to the council.

The borough’s planning committee is set to dicuss the application on Tuesday – with officers recommending refusal. A report raises concern the proposals would ‘substantially harm the amenities of residents adjacent to the site’ and it would ‘create a prominent, alien and visual intrusion to the countryside’.

Mr Walls said if the application is turned down the Academy will appeal it and rally the support of the parents.

Responding to concerns from residents that the development would create additional noise and disturbance for nearby homes and put children in danger as they walk to the field, Mr Walls added: “There will be no extra car parking, buildings or flood-lighting, the field will only be in use 9-5pm weekdays. And the school is quite capable of ensuring the safety of its pupils.”

The Academy’s head boy and head girl will give a presentation at the council meeting.