Berkshire

Taylor Wimpey battles for use of Elvian School site

The Elvian School Image copyright Graham Horn
Image caption Elvian School in Reading closed in July 2010 because of funding problems

A housing developer is making a third attempt to build homes on land earmarked for Reading's first free secondary school.

Taylor Wimpey was twice refused permission to build "much-needed homes" on the former Elvian School site.

It is now mounting a legal challenge that will need to be defended by the government.

The team behind the free school said this was a "delaying tactic" that put profits before educational needs.

Taylor Wimpey's plans for the site, where it wants to build 173 new homes, were first refused by Reading Borough Council and then by the Planning Inspectorate.

'So disappointed'

The inspectorate ruled a residential site would be "harmful to the provision of education" in the area.

The site has been earmarked by the West Reading Education Network (Wren) for a free school. It says the area needs about 240 extra secondary school places.

Wren project director Mischa Tytel said: "We are so disappointed that Taylor Wimpey won't accept the planning inspector's decision.

"The lack of school places is a problem now but will be critical by 2017.

"Our community needs the Wren School to be built now."

But Taylor Wimpey said there was "a recognised need for more high quality homes in Reading" and that the Elvian School site was "a viable and sustainable location for residential development".

The secretary of state for communities and local government will need to defend the two refusals at a hearing date yet to be confirmed.

The Wren School, approved by Education Secretary Michael Gove, is scheduled to open in 2015.

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