Bid to block sale of
former school land

The Billinghay Community Group team near the Fen Road site of the former Lafford School. EMN-160613-184410001
The Billinghay Community Group team near the Fen Road site of the former Lafford School. EMN-160613-184410001

A group representing concerned villagers is bidding to block plans to sell off part of a former school site for housing.

Lafford High School in Billinghay closed in 2010 and was later demolished ready for redevelopment by Lincolnshire County Council.

Billinghay Community Group has been set up representing the view of some residents, businesses and groups in the village, concerned that the one remaining area to improve local facilities for the expanding population could be lost if the council goes ahead and sells off a portion of the site for around 16 houses.

The parish council and the Billinghay Community Plan group have spent the last 18 months consulting with residents and other groups about what facilties and business opportunities are needed to help the community develop.

Secretary of the Billinghay Community Group, Kathryn Locke, is also vice-chairman of the parish council and chairman of the Community Plan group. She said they have applied to North Kesteven District Council to have the Fen Road site listed as an ‘Asset of Community Value’ which, if successful, will allow the community time to bid to buy it. The decision from NKDC could take eight weeks.

Mrs Locke said Fen Road is central to the village and the 550 extra homes proposed over the next 25 years in the emerging Central Lincolnshire Plan. Adjacent to the primary school, nursery, Children’s Centre and swimming pool, the Community Group believe it would make an ideal location for further community facilities and space for businesses.

She said: “These new homes need extra infrastructure to support them such as a larger medical centre, car parking for the swimming pool, a gym and shops.”

The rest of the school site is intended for community uses, but Mrs Locke said: “The county council want us to give up nearly half the site for 16 houses. Billinghay has become a thriving village, but we need more space for businesses.”

They are urging residents to make their feelings known to Lincolnshire County Council.

A County Hall spokesman said much of the land will be for community use with the authority having sought locals’ views on the future of the site since the school’s closure six years ago. However, they added the whole site did not form part of the community offer. The former school’s playing field to the west of the site is proposed to be divided into community playing fields and an extension to Billinghay Primary School field.

The spokesman said the eastern part where the main buildings stood is subject to plans for a combination of residential and community uses, including a ‘small number of dwellings’, a turn-around lane for buses, a drop off point for the primary school and play equipment for children. 

Government permission to sell off the part for housing is to be sought once consultation ends on July 18.

The spokesman said all bids would be considered, irrespective of whether there is an Asset of Community Value listing, to seek the most benefit for all residents of Lincolnshire.