Two potential sites for school sports hall project

Battle Recreation Ground. SUS-140319-150958001
Battle Recreation Ground. SUS-140319-150958001

A LEADING independent school, which plans to build a new sports hall in Battle, is looking at two potential sites for the project.

Last month Battle Abbey School revealed it hoped to build a new indoor sports facility on land at George Meadow, near the town’s cricket pitch, for the use of the school and the wider community.

But Battle Town Council, which owns the land, rejected an appeal from the school to make the land available for development.

Now the school is considering alternative sites at Blackfriars and the recreation ground in North Trade Road.

The town council owns recreation ground and, as Cllr Richard Jessop pointed out at a council meeting this week, this option would allow the council to have more control.

Cllr Jessop said: “It would allow the council to have more control over benefits coming to the community.

“The school are very generous with their offers.

“If they move to Blackfriars, that is not our land and I get the feeling we may not be in the position to agree anything.”

Speaking about the recreation ground, he said: “We have got some nearly derelict buildings on the other side of the tennis courts. That is fairly dead land down there and would not impact on the use of the football pitch or the open area we have got towards North Trade Road.”

The matter will be discussed in detail by the council’s estates committee soon.

James Dennett, marketing manager at Battle Abbey School, said: “It’s widely known that we are very keen to enhance the sports facilities available for our pupils.

“We have been trying to identify a suitable location within walking distance of the school to build a sports hall, but unfortunately, English Heritage will not support any proposal to build on land that would be suitable for the school.

“The council has recently turned down our proposal to build on the George Meadow site and both these alternative sites represent potential opportunities for the school.

“We are hoping to work in partnership with the town council on this project for the benefit of the community and to find a location that suits all parties. Needless to say, if neither of these locations is deemed suitable, we will have little option but to purchase a plot of land and build a smaller sports hall.

“We are keen to build a new facility by September 2015 and therefore it’s essential that we agree a location as soon as possible.”

An English Heritage spokesperson said: “We have worked with the school to look at whether any of the land in our estate would be suitable for their requirement to build a new sports hall.

“Apart from the walled garden area on the far side of Powdermill Lane, which the school did not feel was suitable, the rest of the land we hold is registered battlefield and therefore not appropriate for development.”