New Concert Hall for Saffron Walden back on track

PLANS for an innovative, state of the art auditorium in Saffron Walden are back on track. Saffron Walden County High School has resubmitted plans to replace the school s existing 1950 s building to Uttlesford District Council.The new multi-purpose hall w

PLANS for an innovative, state of the art auditorium in Saffron Walden are back on track.

Saffron Walden County High School has resubmitted plans to replace the school's existing 1950's building to Uttlesford District Council.

The new multi-purpose hall will be capable of accommodating up to 842 people (including audience and performers) and will provide the school - and the wider community - with a modern and highly versatile performance space.

The flexible interior design will allow the room to be reconfigured according to the nature of the performance and will provide acoustics of the highest standard.

The principal use of the auditorium will be for school activities and there will also be a programme of community arts events including music and drama.

Following rejection of the original plans by UDC - largely over parking issues - the scheme has been modified to address some specific concerns raised about parking and access.

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Headteacher John Hartley said: "We are very excited by the potential of this new auditorium. This facility will be of enormous benefit to the school and to Saffron Walden.

"The local arts groups that we have been speaking to are very keen to have access to a performance venue that is purpose built, and the generous grant that has been offered to us by a locally based charitable trust will allow us to build an auditorium that will be far better than anything we could afford to build ourselves.

"We have listened to the concerns expressed by the Council and local residents and, through consultation, we have improved the scheme so that parking for the auditorium and cinema users are at the western end of the school site well away from our closest neighbours. We have also improved access with a two-way vehicular flow system".

The proposed new development offers:

* Improved backstage facilities, with changing rooms, rehearsal space and ancillary rooms, many of which will also provide additional teaching and tutorial space for use by the school's sixth form.

* An extension to the school's existing private study and social facilities for sixth formers.

* An extended and more accessible main entrance to the school building

* New car parking facilities to be accessed from the main school entrance and served by a two-way road running to the west of the school buildings.

* New entrance arrangements for use of the auditorium outside of school hours, enabling access from the new car parking areas.

Mr Hartley added: "I believe this project represents a once in a generation opportunity to provide a local school with multipurpose arts facilities which are second to none in the maintained sector.

"We believe there is great support from both individuals and groups in the community, and I very much hope that they will make their voice heard by writing in to Uttlesford District Council, or by leaving comments on the council's planning website."

Letters or e-mail should quote the planning reference number UTT/0422/10/FUL. The closing date for comments is April 5.