Campaigners have presented their petition carrying more than 4,000 names against the sale of school playing fields to their MP.
MP for Corby and East Northants Tom Pursglove met members of the Oundle Recreation and Green Spaces Group on Friday to receive their petition against the sale of Oundle Primary School’s playing field at Cotterstock Road and Fletton Field.
Friday was also the final day for submissions for a consultation over the sale of the land by Northamptonshire County Council.
All submissions will now be considered by the Secretary of State for Education.
Mr Pursglove said: “Last week, I submitted my objection to Atkins Limited’s consultation on the disposal of playing field land in Oundle – a copy of which I also sent directly to the Secretary of State for Education.
“On Friday, I also met with the Oundle Recreation and Green Spaces Group and a number of primary school children who handed me the substantial petition the community have collated in favour of protecting these two pieces of land for school and community use.
“Personally, I find it astonishing that such a well organised campaign - which has the strong support of 4,000 people in a town of 4,500 - could be ignored by Northamptonshire County Council, especially given the fact that these parcels of land have not featured in Oundle Town Council’s town plan,the Rural North, Oundle and Thrapston Plan.
“Oundle has also already exceeded its housing allocation target, meaning further development simply is not wanted, or required, here.
“I hope to present the petition in the House of Commons in the next few weeks, and, going forward, will continue to keep a very close eye on the progress of this application and do all I can to support the campaign.”
Jo Trott from the campaign group said they were hoping to get at least 100 objections to the land sale plans ahead of last week’s deadline, and added: “People are really passionate about this.”
County council deputy leader and ward councillor for Oundle Cllr Heather Smith said: “We want children across east Northamptonshire to receive a high standard of education in modern, good-quality buildings.
“We implemented the move from three to two-tier education in September in order to improve educational outcomes for these children through a smoother transition from primary to secondary-level education and as part of that change, we are making a significant investment to refurbish, expand and build new school buildings to accommodate the changes.
“We have always been clear that this investment relies upon the receipts from the sale of surplus school land, namely playing fields in Oundle which exceed the schools’ requirements.
“Without these land sales, we would not be able to deliver all of the planned improvement works.
“We are already seeing improved outcomes for children at Prince William School and increased application numbers, so it is imperative that we can continue to deliver the improvements as planned.”
Just 10 days ago, outline planning permission for up to 13 dwellings on land behind Abbott House and 1-3 Glapthorn Road, submitted by the county council which owns the land, was refused by East Northants Council’s planning management committee.
An application has also been submitted by Oundle Town Council for Fletton Field to be an official village green.