An Abingdon school is planning to sell part of its playing fields for homes.

Money from the sale of the land at Larkmead School would be used to improve sports facilities and open them up to the public. And tennis could be back on the sports agenda for the first time in 10 years.

The land - on the former Pavlova leather factory - is rarely used and is separate from the rest of the playing fields.

The site is close to the Spring Road cemetery, separated only by a hedge and when games take place noise can interfere with burial services.

Larkmead headteacher Chris Harris said the playing field was geographically cut off and 15 feet above the school's other playing fields, making it impossible to supervise from the other areas of the school.

He said: "Our aim is to sell the land to generate money that would be spent on new artificial pitches for our pupils and the rest of the community.

"Larkmead wants to share all its facilities, not just sport, with the community. We see ourselves as a potential arts and sports centre serving south Abingdon and area.

"Currently there are very few facilities for the community here and, with the support of the Vale of White Horse District Council and Abingdon Town Council, we would like to improve our facilities and help the rest of the community. The land was part of the leather factory and as such may already be developed land."

The idea is that Larkmead could establish two artificial pitches for football, netball, tennis and hockey. The old tennis courts do not comply with health and safety regulations and the school cannot afford to refurbish them. Mr Harris said: "We would like to be a centre of excellence for several sports, including netball.

"With the London Olympic Games in 2012 approaching, it would seem wrong to leave undeveloped land that could be used to further the sporting opportunities of the community."

Under Government rules to protect school playing fields, the school and Oxfordshire County Council have to consult with governors and local councils before putting in a planning application to the Vale of White Horse District Council. It has written to Abingdon Town Council seeking its views.

Town council planning and highways committee chairman Martin Smith said councillors had some reservations about the proposals because playing fields were important to a school.

He said they needed more information and to see a formal planning application before making any further comment.