Saffron Walden County High School announce plans for new concert hall

PUBLISHED: 09:22 13 August 2009 | UPDATED: 21:53 31 May 2010

An artist's impression of the new building Picture: SUBMITTED

An artist's impression of the new building Picture: SUBMITTED

AMBITIOUS plans to build a professional-standard concert hall, with seating for up to 800 people, have been announced by Saffron Walden County High School (SWCHS). An application to replace the existing 1950s-built school hall, on Audley End Road, with a

AMBITIOUS plans to build a professional-standard concert hall, with seating for up to 800 people, have been announced by Saffron Walden County High School (SWCHS).

An application to replace the existing 1950s-built school hall, on Audley End Road, with a multipurpose auditorium has been submitted to Uttlesford District Council.

Headteacher John Hartley said: "We believe this hall will greatly expand the opportunities for music and the arts in the town and could, for example, act as the hub of a major music festival in the summer.

"Nevertheless, this remains, first and foremost, a SWCHS facility and we are very excited at the added capacity and amenities this project delivers to the school."

If the plans are approved it is hoped that work on the auditorium - costing more than £1 million - will begin in spring 2010 and be completed by autumn 2011.

Much of the cost is being met by a local charitable trust and the school say the concert hall will provide much-needed facilities and teaching spaces which are vital to maintaining the school's position as one of the country's leading sixth-forms.

The state-of-the-art auditorium comes with an orchestra pit, a large stage, green rooms and backstage areas, a foyer and ticket office.

Chair of the Governors at SWCHS, Mark Hayes, said: "We have already coped successfully with a major construction project in the centre of the school when we built The Boatman Centre (which houses Saffron Screen) and the governing body is confident that during the construction period disruption for the school and our neighbours will be minimised.

"When completed, this will be a tremendous new facility for exceptional music, for the school and local community."

The Saffron Walden Arts Trust has welcomed the development, but has voiced some concern about what extent it will benefit the wider community.

Wendy Upson from the Trust said: "We welcome any initiative which provides additional arts facilities for the town, but in a school environment there are constraints imposed by issues such as access and security.

"The Arts Trust is an umbrella organisation for the arts in Saffron Walden, representing groups such as Uttlesford Orchestra and the Choral Society, and we would welcome some input into the project."

DO you think the school's new concert hall will be a benefit to the town?

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