Waiting game over fate of housing bid for former school playing field

Former Woodside Primary and Nursery School in Hethersett.

Woodside Primary and Nursery School's former site in Firs Road, Hethersett, where the playing field could be sold off to make way for housing. - Credit: Peter Steward

The fate of a former school playing field is in the hands of the education secretary - with council bosses waiting to learn if the government would permit homes to be built on it.

But people living nearby hope secretary of state Nadhim Zahawi will back their call for the field to remain in community use.

Norfolk County Council carried out consultation over the future of Woodside Primary and Nursery School's former playing fields, in Firs Road, Hethersett, earlier this year.

Former Woodside Primary and Nursery School in Hethersett.

Norfolk County Council is contemplating selling the playing field at the former Woodside Primary and Nursery School in Hethersett. - Credit: Peter Steward

The school moved to a new building in Coachmakers Way two years ago.

Bosses at County Hall said, in February, that they were considering a number of options, including whether to sell the site, or to develop it for an independent living scheme.

The council said there is a Norfolk-wide requirement for more specialist housing for people with care and support needs, with some 2,800 extra needed by 2028.

The council asked the Department for Education for permission to sell or develop the fields - and is awaiting a response.

However, Hethersett Parish Council wants the land to remain in  public ownership - and put forward an alternative proposal of its own.

Nadhim Zahawi

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi - Credit: Richard Townshend Photography

Members agreed earlier this year to write to Mr Zahawi to seek permission to integrate the land into the next door Memorial Playing Field.`

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Councillors said that would provide extra recreational space in keeping with the land’s former use as a children’s play area.

Chair of Hethersett Parish Council, Adrienne Quinlan

Adrienne Quinlan, chair of Hethersett Parish Council - Credit: Adrienne Quinlan

Adrienne Quinlan, chair of Hethersett Parish Council, said the council had yet to hear anything from Mr Zahawi either.

She said: "The parish council's view is that we would like to retain that land, but I would be surprised if he were to say we could.

"We do have concerns, but if it is to become housing, we would prefer it to be for independent living, rather than as commercial housing."

Any future plans to develop the site would have to secure planning permission via South Norfolk Council.

The issue of new homes in Hethersett has sparked debate in recent months, with concerns over the pressure on services such as GP surgeries.