More than 100k spent on Werrington Fields fencing plans by Peterborough council so far

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Council is ‘reviewing the circumstances around Werrington Fields’ again

More than £100,000 has been spent on plans to erect fencing on Werrington Fields by the council over the last five years.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed that Peterborough City Council (PCC) has spent £106,398.55 between the 2019/20 financial year and the present day on fencing, surveys, legal advice, planning applications and its unsuccessful bid to the government to change the use of part of the fields to public land.

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The fields, also known as the Ken Stimpson playing fields, are used by the school for sports as well as by local residents for dog walking and other leisure activities.

Werrington Fields; also known as the Ken Stimpson Academy playing fieldsWerrington Fields; also known as the Ken Stimpson Academy playing fields
Werrington Fields; also known as the Ken Stimpson Academy playing fields

Since 2019, the school – the Ken Stimpson Academy – has wanted some of the fields to be fenced off to safeguard its pupils, while there has been pushback from local campaign groups which have said the school should continue to share the land with locals without fencing.

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Some have since, however, welcomed the possibility of a compromise with the school which involves fencing, despite having had unrestricted access for around forty years.

Several years on, the issue is yet to be fully resolved and further expenses could be incurred while a long-term solution is found and implemented.

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The council's latest plans included fencing off areas B and C - but it has since said it's reviewing its position againThe council's latest plans included fencing off areas B and C - but it has since said it's reviewing its position again
The council's latest plans included fencing off areas B and C - but it has since said it's reviewing its position again

£58k spent on fencing materials

So far, around £58,000 has been spent on fencing materials, while around £11,000 has been spent on external legal and professional advice.

A further £9,000 was spent on section 77 application support: this was the council’s bid to the Secretary of State for Education to change the use of part of the fields to public use so that another, smaller, section could be fenced off for the school.

This request was denied, however, as the Department for Education said there are “no exceptional circumstances” which provide a reason to depart from its “clear policy presumption against the loss of school land”.

The application followed several other attempts at resolving the issue, including an attempt to fence part of the fields in 2020 which was thwarted after the council admitted it had been “wrong to proceed with its proposals” as this was “a breach of the statutory trust on which the land is held for the benefit of the public”.

Council reviewing issue again

PCC says it’s once again looking into the issue.

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A spokesperson said: "Officers are reviewing the circumstances around Werrington Fields and we expect to be able to provide an update in the coming weeks.

"Officers are reviewing the circumstances around Werrington Fields and we expect to be able to provide an update in the coming weeks.”

The council has previously said it’ll pay for the fence erected on the fields, despite Ken Stimpson Academy now being run by the Four Cs Academy Trust rather than the local authority.

PCC has been contacted for comment on whether any further money will be spent on fencing.

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It has previously said its next steps are to enter into a full lease with the academy trust – after having previously entered a tenancy at will arrangement – before submitting a planning application to fence off around a third of the fields.

In its last comprehensive update, on 22nd March, it said that Four Cs intends to fence off the entirety of the land designated as education land, but is “supportive of a Community Use Agreement to allow the community to use the area outside of school hours”.

Whether this will apply to the latest arrangements being put together by PCC is not yet clear.

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