Friday, February 15, 2008

Glasshouse Field under threat.

Residents living in Southstoke Road and Midford Road, whose back gardens back on to the field were surprised to receive a letter from the Council asking them to sign a licence for the long standing use of their back gates into the field.

For as long as many can remember some residents have had access into the field without any problem. This action coincides with rumours of the departure of Old Culverhaysians Rugby Club from the field and the £20m sale of the field for development.

Local councillors were kept in the dark about the future of the field and asked Cllr Malcolm Hanney (Conservative Cabinet Member for Resources) to ‘set the record straight’ and confirm that there are no plans to sell off Glasshouse Fields.

Cllr Hanney's response is as follows:
"This has been subject to quite a lot of local speculation for the last few months. Property Services have no plans to take such a proposal forward. The school do have ambitions to create a sporting "hub" which, as far as we understand it, centre on Odd Down Playing Fields; which are closer to the school than Glasshouse, but there have been no discussions, to our knowledge about selling off this field.

Property Services are, as part of the review of the estate, trying to sort out a lot of illegal openings on to this and other school fields/open spaces by, initially seeking to formalise them by use of licence or, if they don't agree to such a licence, seeking to block them up. This is good estate management practice.

There is, unfortunately, no way that this authority can make undertakings as to the future of school premises. Under the provisions of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, any school may make an application for Foundation status. Several of the secondary schools in BANES have applied for such status and it is possible that some or all of the remaining secondary schools will follow suit.

If this happens, all school property assets transfer to the School. They are then able to deal with their land in a way that they see as being to their best benefit. In the case of Hayesfield a decision was made to sell off their detached playing field. The Council has very limited say in these decisions."

So the field is safe for now, but in the longer term Culverhay School, if it became a foundation school, could sell it off. However, they would have to get permission from Sport England to sell off playing fields.

We would like to know whether the Council has the right to block up these entrances that have been used for years. There is certainly not enough information contained in the letter to residents. Our view is that local residents should consider setting up their own Friends of Glasshouse Field, to look at how they can protect the Field in the future.


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