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Town council resists Sherborne school growth plan

By Western Gazette - Sherborne  |  Posted: December 13, 2012

  • Plans to extend Gryphon School, Sherborne

  • Steve Hiller, head teacher of Gryphon School, Sherborne

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PLANS to extend a Sherborne school have faced opposition from the town council – despite the head teacher saying the school is at capacity.

The Gryphon School has applied to West Dorset District Council for permission to build an extension with two classrooms and a lift.

The proposed location for the two-storey extension is in the south east corner of the site, at a 45 degree angle to the existing school building.

A design and access statement on the school plans said the 73 square metre classrooms are needed to cater for its 1,650 students – as the school was designed for just 900 when it was built in 1992.

But Sherborne Town Council criticised the plans.

Members supported an objection made by local residents Michael and Anne Hunt who are concerned the extension will block their view and overlook their house.

The couple said the proposed site is on a bank and so would be eight foot taller than their house on St Aldhelm’s Road.

Speaking at a town council meeting this week, councillor Katherine Pike said: “Particularly because the site is on a bank this will loom very much above their house.

“It is also not in line with the rest of the school, it sticks out at a very strange angle.”

Mrs Pike and councillor Jon Andrews said they were “totally against the plans”.

Concerns were also raised that trees may have to be removed to gain access to the building site.

Mrs Pike added: “It seems very poor practice to plant trees to screen the building from neighbours, only to fell them 20 years later.”

The council agreed to object to the application on the grounds that it would be as high as a three- storey building and this would be overbearing, oppressive and detrimental to homes of the neighbours.

But the design and access statement said the extension is necessary as “there has been a considerable strain upon the existing buildings”.

Head teacher Steve Hillier said: “The school is at capacity and as a thriving, successful school we need to create additional classroom space.

“We are constantly looking at ways to improve our facilities and, as there is a grant available now as part of our becoming an academy, this is the time to build.

“The new extension has been designed very carefully to minimise impact on neighbours, with windows facing away from the existing housing.

“This is a very small extension, 202 sq metres compared to the nearly 12,000 sq metres of the existing school, and we are confident it will be in keeping with and not impinge on the surrounding environment.

“The new classrooms can only benefit the community of Sherborne as it will provide extra accommodation for our students and another lift at the far end of the School for disabled access.

“We always work closely with the local community and are happy to discuss any questions raised regarding this.”

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  • Aardvark Conservation  |  December 13 2012, 10:20AM

    Does the school move in its entirety into greenbelt land at a huge expense to satisfy a few whingeing neighbours? Does the school expand across Castle Town Way? Do the neighbours move away and let someone whose children will go to the school? Maybe to a teacher or school-keeper? Or does the school utilise the fact that as they are on a hill, that they dig, dig, dig for victory? A multi-level extension development with multi-level parking, all of which is incorporated into the original buildings seems to me to be a rather good option to fully utilise. There is a Colosseum/castle/auditorium style in my head at this moment. Shall I come along and explore the future designs and needs with the children and Headmaster? ...Aardvark Conservation or Plasterworks on FB.

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