A primary school near Hereford has been told it can turn neighbouring farmland into playing fields.

Stretton Sugwas CE Academy can now make use of the two-acre area, which lies close to neighbouring houses.

Nearby resident Steve Hyde objected, saying the school “is getting far too large and overbearing”.

“If the planning application is approved for this extra ground, what is to stop the school applying for future buildings on any of the sports areas surrounding the local houses?” he wrote.

Stretton Sugwas Parish Council also expressed “concerns about how any future development would impact the neighbouring houses”.


Planning officer Laura Smith said in her report that pupil numbers at the school would not increase as a result, “therefore this change of use will not result in the school becoming too large and overbearing”.

The timber post-and-rail fencing around the playing fields would not “cause any demonstrably detrimental visual impact”, she added.

A condition of the permission granted is that “no structure or building shall be erected on the land… in order to protect the character and amenity of the locality”.

The school’s most recently published governors’ report, from last year, says its growth strategy, begun in 2020, aims to “grow each class over a seven-year period from a possible 140 pupils to 210”. It has also run a pre-school since 2018.

Its latest move is in marked contrast to the national trend, which has seen 94 English schools selling off their playing fields in the past seven years, according to recent analysis by the Liberal Democrats.