Charity Commission investigates school plan for charitable land

Waltham Forest intends to build school for 1,700 pupils

The Charity Commission is looking into plans by Waltham Forest Council to build a large school on charitable land it holds in trust in east London.

The council has issued a public notice saying it intends to ‘appropriate' the land around Leyton Sports Ground. A council spokesman said this would allow it to use the plot for whatever it wanted, and that it intends to build a school for 1,700 pupils.

The land was gifted to the council, to be held on trust, in the 1940s. The spokesman said that section 122 of the Local Government Act 1972 entitled councils to appropriate any trust land they hold, provided it is no longer needed for its original purpose.

If the land was classed as "open space", two weeks' public notice had to be given so objections could be registered, he said. The notice period for objections ended yesterday (Thurs) and final proposals would go before the council's cabinet on 7 July.

The council spokesman said claims in the local press that the school would be built on the existing cricket pitch were inaccurate. He said it would be built on land that is currently derelict around the perimeter of the pitch. "The cricket pavilion, which is a listed building, will get significant investment," he added.

The charities register for Leyton Sports Ground shows that it has not submitted any due documents during the past five years.
A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said: "The commission is in correspondence with the council to give advice concerning the land's charitable status and in order to ascertain whether the proposals comply with charity law."

Earlier this month, two local residents in Dartford, Kent, appealed to the Charity Tribunal against the Charity Commission's decision to permit Dartford Borough Council to replace a small section of charitable land it sold to developers linked with Tesco with another section of land and use the difference in value for the upkeep of the rest of the charitable land. The appellants said the commission should have forced the council to recover the sold charitable land.

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