Anger over plans to build Advance School over 'the heart' of Green Lane estate in Upper Norwood
A new primary school planned to be built over popular playing fields in Upper Norwood would rob residents of "the heart" of their estate, councillors have said.
The ward's three councillors are preparing to battle proposals to construct the 630-pupil Advance School at Green Lane sports ground in Highbury Avenue, which they say is a vital green space for youngsters.
The school's founders, headed by Wandsworth councillor Russell King, this week launched a consultation on the building, which they insisted would consume only a small part of the fields.
But Coun John Wentworth said: "We are completely against using that playing field for school site. Given the size of the school, the school building plus the playground will take up virtually all of that playing field.
"It is good that extra school places are being created, but if you look at that part of Upper Norwood that is really the only place space they have got so it would be a great shame."
He cited St James the Great Primary School, which has 420 pupils and a plot of land well over half the size of Green Lane sports ground, as proof the new school would eat up a huge chunk of the fields.
The school would be built over a large chunk of the fields
Coun Pat Ryan said paving over the fields, which are used for sports including football and cricket, would betray the legacy of last year's Olympics.
He said: "This land is right in the heart of the Green Lane estate. It is a densely populated area with so many people living there and there's a community centre there as well.
"We talk about legacy since the Olympics and now they are taking up a large chunk of this to build a school when so many young people on that estate desperately need open spaces and sport.
"The playing fields of Croydon are gold dust really.
"We need good education, of course, and schools are desperately needed, but open spaces are important to young people too."
Russell King, the school's lead founder
Mr King said the school, which won funding from the Department for Education in May, would take up "a small proportion" of the fields with the rest remaining open to the public.
It is planned to open in September 2014 with an initial intake of 90 pupils.
Croydon Council said it had reached a preliminary agreement with Advance for the school to be built and it expected the school to take up a third of the fields.
Consultation sessions will take place at Thornton Heath children’s centre at 12pm-3pm on Thursday October 3 and 6pm-9pm on Tuesday October 15, with a planning application for the school set to be lodged later this year.
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