Saffron Walden's concert hall plan is off key

PUBLISHED: 09:00 22 October 2009 | UPDATED: 22:02 31 May 2010

Artist's impressions of the concert hall Picture: SUBMITTED

Artist's impressions of the concert hall Picture: SUBMITTED

AN OPPORTUNITY to have a world-class venue for theatre and music in Saffron Walden is now uncertain after initial plans were rejected. Ambitious proposals to build a professional-standard concert hall at Saffron Walden County High School were thrown o

AN OPPORTUNITY to have a world-class venue for theatre and music in Saffron Walden is now "uncertain" after initial plans were rejected.

Ambitious proposals to build a professional-standard concert hall at Saffron Walden County High School were thrown out at a meeting of Uttlesford District Council's development control committee.

Headteacher John Hartley said the decision has "jeopardised" what could be an "enormously important project for the school and the town".

"This has come as a shock especially as planning officers had recommended the scheme for approval," he said.

"We understand that the main issue was parking, which was a surprise because we had provided for an extra 92 spaces on top of what the council had said we would need.

"The auditorium would provide world-class facilities for all of the students as well as attracting orchestras and theatre groups of national reputation which would be a huge asset for the town - all this is now uncertain."

Speaking on behalf of Saffron Walden Town Council, town clerk Malcolm White told the committee that they could not support the application because of the "totally inadequate" parking.

"When both the cinema and the sports hall are in use together, parking is already difficult," he said.

"We note from the officers report that government guidance suggest that the proposed auditorium of this size requires 204 parking spaces.

"My members find that figure absurdly low for a hall with a capacity of over 1000 people as it suggests each car would be carrying an average of five people. There is of course no public transport available at that time of night a fact recognised in the report, and only a relatively small proportion of people would walk."

The town clerk also said that the application would cause noise and disturbance to the people of Copperfields and there was a genuine health and safety risk with cars accessing and driving around the site.

"The town council fully applauds the school for their ambitious proposals, but feel that the application as it stands must be refused until the parking issue is properly addressed," he said.

The school's governors will hold a meeting in the near future to decide what action to take.

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

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