Plans to build new homes on the site of an historic playing field face fierce opposition from local residents.
Birkenhead School, an independent school on Beresford Road in Oxton, Wirral, wants to sell off Noctorum Field and gain planning permission for up to 33 homes on the site.
The plan has been submitted to Wirral Council along with a proposal to upgrade the school’s existing sports hall and build an additional multi-purpose sports facility at its Bidston Road campus, featuring rooms for fitness activities, meetings and events.
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Paul Vicars, the school’s headmaster, said the school’s plans will mean Noctorum Field has a lasting legacy by unlocking substantial investment that will improve the local sports facilities and educational opportunities on offer for young people from across the Wirral.
But a petition against the application, organised by the Noctorum Ridge Residents Association (NRRA), has attracted more than 1,600 signatures.
As well as this, 440 people have registered their opposition to the plans on Wirral Council’s website, with 166 saying they are in favour of the project.
The residents association wants Birkenhead School to use the COP 26 summit, the major climate conference bringing together world leaders, as the moment to rethink plans which it claims will “destroy an historic playing field which forms the heart of a green oasis within their neighbourhood”.
Noctorum Field is also of historic interest, as it is listed by the Imperial War Museum as a site of war memorial dedicated to the lives of former school sports players who lost their lives in the Second World War.
Carmel Nolan, NRRA co-chair, said: “The Prime Minister’s message to COP 26 in Glasgow is that we are one minute to midnight when it comes to preventing climate catastrophe. So this is no time to be letting go of long established green spaces here.
“We hope Birkenhead School will use the COP 26 fortnight as the right moment to rethink their anti-green, anti climate change behaviour.
“The little amount of support they have managed to drum up for their planning application, shows the school’s management is operating against the grain of parents, pupils and old boys’ wishes.”
Ms Nolan called on the school to withdraw its application.
She added: “We would be delighted if the school had a change of heart. We would be happy to work with them going forward on a green business model that can sustain and enhance our long-established and long shared green neighbourhood for the benefit of the environment and to retain children’s opportunities to play outdoor sport and have designated outdoor classroom space.
“We hope Birkenhead School’s management heed the warnings from COP 26 this week and show climate leadership locally by withdrawing their plans to concrete over this green jewel.”