Anger over school play area at former RAF Coltishall

The Multi Use Games Area MUGA outside the Douglas Bader School. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

The Multi Use Games Area MUGA outside the Douglas Bader School. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

A school's brightly-coloured play area, erected without planning permission opposite homes, has upset residents in the former RAF Coltishall Conservation Area.

The Multi Use Games Area MUGA outside the Douglas Bader School. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

The Multi Use Games Area MUGA outside the Douglas Bader School. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Householders in Badersfield claim construction of the multi-use games area (Muga) should have been stopped when a concerned resident alerted North Norfolk District Council the day a digger arrived on site.

Work has now been halted on the partially-built Muga and the Douglas Bader school, part of the Engage Trust, has submitted a planning application which has yet to be considered.

The short stay school cares for children aged four to 16 with a variety of learning difficulties and welfare problems.

Filby Road residents want the Muga moved to a site behind the school. They say they are not allowed to make alterations to their gardens or driveways without planning permission, in a bid to preserve the character of the former Battle of Britain base.


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They also believe the Muga is too close to the road, their homes and a memorial garden to RAF personnel.

But executive head teacher of the school Des Reynolds says there is no other suitable site within Douglas Bader's grounds.

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He has offered to tone down the colour scheme, repainting it in shades of brown and green, and erect hedging, but believes pupils should not be disadvantaged by the Muga's removal.

Mr Reynolds said Sport England had funded the Muga, recognising that there were not enough sporting facilities for primary aged children.

Younger children were separated from older pupils who had their own playground at the back of the school.

The site where the Muga had been built had been identified as the only available space on the school site.

The Trust deeply regretted residents' continuing concerns but felt it had made every effort to make suitable alterations.

'We strongly feel that our children deserve to have access to this facility which is equivalent to similar facilities in other primary schools,' said Mr Reynolds.

'We do not wish to see our children suffer further disadvantages in their short and already challenging lives.

The decision will now be made by the local planning committee and the Trust will abide by whatever decision is made.'

Steve Riley, chairman of the Badersfield Residents' Company, said they did not want to see the Muga disappear completely, just moved to a more suitable site.

'They've got buckets of room behind the school for it, and for a four-foot fence to separate the older from the younger children,' he claimed.

'If they had applied for planning permission, as should have happened, in the first place, it would not have been granted on this site.

'We don't think it's fair if the council now allow it just because it's half built.'

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