An academy trust has denied it has plans to sell land worth millions following the appointment of a property investment director.

Ahead of the takeover of Waltham Holy Cross School by Net Academies in July, Luke Pledger joined the company's board of trustees.

Mr Pledger lives in Loughton with his wife Michelle where they jointly run Bear Properties Investment Ltd.

The academy chain has said Mr Pledger's appointment is not based on his property buying and selling expertise, claiming instead that he is sought after for his financial expertise.

A spokesperson for the NET said: "Trustees are appointed for their specialist knowledge and skills as well as their commitment to the Nolan Principles of public life.

"Luke Pledger's specialist knowledge is in finance. He has over 30 years experience in financial markets.

"He is currently Senior Managing Director of BGC partners, a leading global Inter dealer brokerage.

"Luke is a trustee who lives locally to the trust. His appointment was in no way linked to the Trust's sponsorship of Waltham Holy Cross Primary School.

"There are no plans to sell the school's land."

The latter part of the academy's claim has been met with some cynicism by parents of Waltham Holy Cross pupils however.

Colin Potter, a parent who has been fighting the academies take over of the school following its 'inadequate' Ofsted rating, believes Mr Pledger has been brought on board to help sell some of the school's valuable land reserves.

According to the Land Registry, the school owns £11.6m worth of land.

He said: "Parents are not reassured by NET Academies statement that their recent appointment of an expert financial specialist (with interests in real estate) as a trustee is unconnected to their proposed sponsorship of Waltham Holy Cross Primary School.

"We have been previously told that there are no plans at present to sell any of the school land.

"However, once an Academy Trust has been given ownership of the land we have no guarantees for the future."

An email seen by The Guardian sent in May by Joseph Chell, head of school organisation and place planning at Essex County Council, suggests the academy will sell off some of its land.

He wrote: "The Trust sees major building issues and think they will need to dispose of some land to fund/rebuild/remodel/improvement (sic)."

The admission did not impress Mr Potter who said: "NET trustees may well be committed to the Nolan Principles of public life but what they consider to be in the public interest is open to question.

"Disposing of their seriously failing schools elsewhere and attempting to take control of our school against the wishes of parents and staff is not what we consider to be in the public interest."