The New Schools That Will Eat Up '180 Football Pitches'

Article excerpt

Byline: GRAHAM GRANT

By Graham Grant Home Affairs Editor SCOTLAND is set to lose enough playing fields to cover 180 football pitches due to councils hiring private companies to build new 'superschools'.

And last night there were calls for action to stop greedy developers using Labour's public-private partnership (PPP) policy to grab greenfield land and make huge profits.

A report released yesterday shows some firms are encouraging councils to opt for costly new schools to be built on playing fields rather than refurbish existing buildings.

Then, after the original schools are demolished, the sites can be used for lucrative new housing in some of Scotland's most sought-after areas.

The staggering loss of playing fields north of the Border was disclosed in a report prepared by academic John Bachtler for the Holmhills Wood Community Park Action Group in South Lanarkshire.

The group was set up to fight council plans to build a school on award-winning parkland.

Mr Bachtler's report - the first national survey of PPP school projects - says councils are targeting playing fields covering more than 130 hectares to 'suit the interests of multinational developers'.

It claims: 'Parkland, playing fields and "kickabout areas" are all being built on, regardless of the views of local communities. Once built on, this rare and valuable open space is unlikely to revert to green space.' Playing fields are now being developed in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Falkirk Lanarkshire, Aberdeen, Dundee, Renfrewshire, the Highlands, Stirling and Clackmannanshire.

A total of 140 sites are being sold to developers, who mainly use them for luxury homes, while new schools are built on the playing fields and parkland.

The report says: 'The Scottish Executive is either wilfully or unconsciously ignoring the loss of open space and the failures of the planning system associated with PPP projects. …