A COMMUNITY is working together to buy a 1.5 acre green space and save it from development.

Kirkham Street Field, in Somerton, has served the residents for at least 100 years - as a fair ground, cricket pitch and now a school playing field.

A new school is set to be built in Somerton, after plans were approved in 2019.

King Ina Church of England Academy currently operates on two sites at opposite ends of the town, with pupils and staff having to travel between Etsome Terrace and Kirkham Street on a daily basis.

Yeovil Express: King Ina Church of England Academy Juniors ; Somerton

Plans were put forward to create a new school on Northfield, which would bring pupils together under one roof for the first time since the academy was created.

READ MORE: Plans for new primary school in Somerton approved

The new site will be able to accommodate up to 420 pupils and could be expanded to take up to 600 in the future.

Members of Somerset County Council (SCC) voted unanimously to approve the plans.

King Ina Academy currently uses the playing field, but will no longer have use for it once the new school is finished.

Yeovil Express: Kirkham Street Field ; Somerton

The school has been leasing the field from Somerset County Council, who are planning to sell the it to raise money towards the new school.

However, residents in Somerton asked Somerton Town Council if anything could be done to save the field, as there are not many green spaces in the town.

So Margaret Chambers, who is now chair of the Kirkham Street Field Community Trust, held a public meeting in March 2019, during which around 500 people agreed to save the field.

Yeovil Express: Judith Hurley at Kirkham Street Field ; Somerton

A formal meeting was held in May 2019 and the group became a trust in October 2019.

SCC agreed to sell the field to the community provided they raise £750,000 to buy it.

A spokesman for SCC said: “The Council has provided the community trust with an assurance that they will be able to buy the Kirkham Street Field at an agreed price within an agreed timescale.

“We understand the trust is currently raising funds.”

Yeovil Express: Judith Hurley ; Somerton ; save Kirkham Street Field

Currently, the trust have managed to raise just over £110,000 - but have also been promised £25,000 by Somerton Town Council, and have also applied for £68,000 from SCC’s Emergency Climate Change Community Fund.

They will find out if they have been successful on January 15.

Yeovil Express: Kirkham Street Field ; Somerton

If the trust don’t manage to raise enough to buy the whole field, SCC has also given them the option to buy a section of it.

For example, £250,000 would by half an acre - a third of the field.

Judith Hurley, secretary of the Kirkham Street Field Trust, said: “At end of the day we need to salvage as much as we can to provide a green space for the community of Somerton – it needs to be an area for all.

“People have had nowhere to go during the coronavirus pandemic and so this is badly needed - not just by the elderly - but also by younger people who are isolated as well.

“It is so important to give people space and somewhere pleasant to sit and walk.”

Last September, the group put together some design ideas for the field should they succeed in their plan to buy the field.

Yeovil Express: Kirkham Street Field plans ; Somerton

Some ideas include:

n Raised beds and sensory planting pathways

n Wheelchair friendly paths allowing access to as many features of the green space as possible

n Opportunities for horticultural projects/intergenerational community gardening

n Children’s play area

n Picnic area

n Meadow

n Orchard

Initially the field is set to remain as it is, but the trust will then develop these ideas - providing they have enough funding.

The deadline to raise the money is this year, but it is dependent on the completion of the new school and when SCC decides to sell the field.

Yeovil Express: Kirkham Street Field ; Somerton

If you would like to donate or find out more visit kirkhamstreetfield.org.uk.

You can donate by bank transfer, cheque or cash.

You can also donate by sending an envelope with your donation marked ‘Campaign Funds’ to Margaret Chambers at 6, Maypole Knap, Somerton TA11 6HR.