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Cabinet to consider Werrington Fields plans

08 July 2024

Cabinet members will be asked to consider a report that recommends land used as playing fields by Ken Stimpson Academy should be transferred to the school under a lease at a meeting taking place on Tuesday 16 July.  

The report also recommends that the council should install a fence around the site, known widely as Area C, so pupils can once again take part in outdoor sports.

Councillors will also be asked to approve that the council enters into a Community Use Agreement with the academy, to protect use of the land by the local community and sports groups.

Council officers have been reconsidering the situation in relation to the fields in Werrington since March, when former Council Leader, Councillor Mohammed Farooq, called for a review.

Since then, further meetings have been held with the leadership of the academy, the council’s new Leader and Cabinet, and there has been a review of decision making and documentation in relation to the matter in recent years.

A report, published today, sets out the conclusions of that review and officers’ recommendations, as well as the rationale for those recommendations.

The report details the options the council has available, which are to do nothing, fence the entire area of land known as Area C, or to fence part of it.

The recommendations from officers take into account the council’s role as the local education authority and therefore give weight to the safety of children who attend the academy. The report includes reference to letters from professionals who have expressed concern at children using the playing fields without a fence. The report also notes that children at the academy have not been using the open space for several years, due to safeguarding concerns.

The report also states that the area of land proposed is consistent in size with the minimum recommended outside space required for a school based on its number of pupils.

Cabinet members will also be asked to agree to pay for the cost of the fence and its installation, which is consistent with a commitment made by a previous Director of Education as part of the negotiations between the council and the academy about arrangements for the school to become an academy.

John Gregg, Executive Director of Children’s Services for Peterborough City Council, said: “Cabinet members will fully consider this matter at the meeting in July and that will include the views of the residents, both those who want it to remain open and those who agree it should be fenced, along with the views of the academy who express in very clear terms the need for the field to be fenced to ensure the safety of their pupils.

“It is also important to remember that the council has to consider this from two perspectives, one as landowner, but more importantly as the local education authority and with that comes an onus to make sure children are safe and can receive a full and proper education.

“The academy has made it very clear that it wants the entire Area C fencing, land which is allocated for educational use and cannot be changed. This will allow it to offer the full curriculum to children, and through a Community Use Agreement, allow the community to use the area outside of school hours to support year-round organised community sporting activities in a safe and controlled environment.”

Cabinet members will also be advised that planning permission is not required and will not be sought for the erection of the fence or for alleged change of use.

This is because permitted development rights allow a six-foot fence (which is roughly 1.8 metres) to be erected on land that does not front a highway, without any need for planning permission. In addition, the principle planning use of the land is still educational land; this has not changed even though the community has been using the land.

The meeting taking place on 16 July begins at 4pm. Members of the public are able to attend the meeting in person or it will be live streamed on the council’s YouTube channel.