A battle to expand a primary school into public playing fields received a boost yesterday as an appeal against plans was thrown out in court.
Campaigners objecting to Merton Council's decision to approve the expansion of Dundonald Primary School into Dundonald recreation ground appealed to the Royal Courts of Justice in London.
Protect Dundonald Rec (PDR) argued the Cabinet's decision to give just over one per cent of Dundonald Rec to the primary school infringed on public rights to the space.
Dundonald Rec is a 48,000sq m public park in Wimbledon with sports facilities including two cricket and football pitches, a bowling green, tennis courts, playground and a pavilion.
The grounds were sold to the state by John Innes and Messrs James in 1893 on the condition they remain 'Public Pleasure Ground'.
Campaigners argue the decision to approve a planning application for a 579sq m expansion of the site, making room for an extra 30 school places, did not properly consider residents' use of the recreation area which they said were threatened by the plans.
But the Honourable Mr Justice King yesterday ruled the council's decision to approve the school expansion was rational, given the wider community interest in providing more school places.
Mr Justice King also recognised the fruitlessness of banning the building work now, given the amount of money already spent by the council on planning for the school's expansion.
Building work at the school cannot begin until a further hearing in September where a previously lodged appeal against the plans by campaigners will be heard.
However Councillor Peter Walker, the former cabinet member for education who spearheaded the application before being sacked for ripping down posters supporting PDR, is already celebrating.
Champagne on ice: Councillor Peter Walker outside Dundonald Primary School
He said: "This is brilliant news for the children of Wimbledon and local residents.
"It means the park will be enjoyed and there will be more places at this excellent school for local children."
Councillor Martin Whelton, cabinet member for education, said: "We welcome the decision of the High Court which shows we have acted both properly and fairly, as we work to fulfil our obligation to provide enough school places to educate children at an outstanding school, close to where they live.
"There is still a lot of work to be done and another hearing which is required in September means that we will need to take further legal advice and keep the situation under review as we consider the next steps to take."
PDR campaigners have yet to comment.