A FREE school’s attempt to build on playing fields in Woolston has been met with concern by community officials.

Maureen Banner, chairman of Woolston Parish Council, said proposals by Kings Leadership Academy Warrington to build classrooms on the sports fields at Hillock Lane is ‘a worry’ for residents.

She said: “Selling the playing fields is a concern.

“It’s something that we need to have clarity on.

“We have got young football teams who have used those pitches for a long time and we want that to continute.

“Our main concern is to look after the sports facilities of our young people.

“Sport builds character and these facilities need to be guarded for our grandchildren and their children.”

The Government is under pressure for selling off playing fields, with critics claiming it is to the detriment of leaving an Olympic legacy.

Warrington Borough Council maintains it has been bullied into selling the playing fields at Hillock Lane, but free school bosses say sports facilities will improve.

A formal planning application is due to be submitted on Friday, January 18.

Don Earley is deputy chief executive of Fields in Trust, a charity that protects playing fields.

He said: “It will be for Warrington as the planning authority to ensure that any application does not result in any loss of much needed facilities, and that any planning application conforms to national guidance and local plan policies.

“Once open space and outdoor facilities are lost, they tend to be lost forever, so very careful consideration should be given in determining what happens.”

Sir Iain Hall, the super head that helped form King’s Leadership Academy, moved to address fears.

He said: “The plans that will be submitted will enhance the sporting facilities in the area.

“There will be a sports hall, all weather pitch, and there will be no loss of football pitches.

“Exisiting teams will be allowed to use the pitches and we will be opening changing rooms for them.

“The school is a community school and this will enhance facilities for the community.”