Saffron Walden school set for complete overhaul

A REVISED application for a new school building and 76 homes in Saffron Walden has been given the green light.

After several rounds of negotiations Uttlesford District Council’s planning committee agreed a project that will transform the Friends’ School on Mount Pleasant Road.

A number of old school buildings will be demolished to make way for a new junior school and nursery. It will sit alongside mixed housing including 31 affordable homes and 18 for people aged over 55.

Cllr Elizabeth Godwin commended the school and the project designers for listening to concerns from residents on design and materials and thanked them for modifying aspects to allow the application to go through.

She said: “Congratulations must go to them for working hard over the last four weeks to get the application to where it is today. This is a far more acceptable proposition.”

Despite support from parents the council deferred the decision a month ago amid concerns over design and air pollution.

At the time Cllr Godwin likened the designs to a “dull terrace straight out of the 1950s” and urged the developers to come back with something better.

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They change has come by designers dividing the block into a terraced-looking building with five pointed roofs – each section is only connected on the ground level.

Chief planning officer Mike Ovenden told the council at Wednesdays’ meeting that the design “shared many aspects with the surrounding area and the ancient water tower.”

Plans to transform Friends’ Junior School began back in 2005 and a previous application to develop was rejected in December 2007, with councillors branding the scheme as “ugly” and “inappropriate”.

A series of public consultations on revised plans were held in November last year which threw up more than 30 letters of objection from residents.

However it seems those problems have now been alleviated.

A project team will begin demolish existing buildings and replacing them within the next two years – 40 parking spaces will also be put in place.

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