Concerns over new Marlborough College dorm
Conservationists and environmentalists are preparing to cross swords with Marlborough College over a planned new accommodation block on a ‘green lung’ at the entrance to the town.
At the beginning of March the College signalled its intention to build a new £5m, three-storey boarding house on a parcel of land called Elmhurst Triangle – known locally as The Paddock – just off the A4 opposite the College Chapel and Memorial Hall.
The proposed new building, which will house around 70 girls, is to be named Dancy House to commemorate former Master, John Dancy, who introduced girls to the College for the first time nearly 50 years ago. It will be the College’s 16th House.
But Historic England – the conservation arm of English Heritage until the body was split into two last year – has demanded ‘improvements’ to the design of the building, which it says will have “a marked impact on the Conservation Area’s character and its immediate setting.”
In a letter to Wiltshire Council planners, inspector of historic buildings and areas, Caroline Power, says: “The current openness of the development site acts to safeguard the entrance into the town and contributes to the setting to a number of listed buildings, as well as providing opportunities for views north and south across the A4, into and out of the Conservation Area.
“The presence of the large three-storey block will impede these views, in particular towards Barton Farm to the north and also impact on the open aspect of the north side of the A4.
“We are, therefore, concerned that the current scheme does not make a positive contribution towards the setting of the designated assets that surround this site and more specifically fails to allow the through views from and towards the conservation area.”
Meanwhile Wiltshire Council has described the Elmhurst Triangle being a “green lung within (Marlborough’s) Air Quality Management Area”.
“Emissions from the building and the loss of open space may combine to exacerbate poor air quality, and this aspect would need to be considered in an application,” says the council.
When the planning application goes before councillors in June, they will also hear that construction will require the removal of eight trees, one of which is “of high arboricultural quality”.
However, a total of 27 trees will be retained and protected on the site.
Local environmental campaigners have privately criticised the proposal, although no formal objection has been forthcoming to date.
The proposals have already started to attract criticism from residents living near The Paddock.
One wrote to Wiltshire Council warning of “the loss of significant green space in a prominent position on the western approach to Marlborough” and suggesting that “traffic access from college fields is not sufficient. This is currently a bottleneck with parking along one side of the road. The additional junction and traffic will cause problems.”
Marlborough Town Council’s planning committee will consider the application at its meeting at Marlborough Town Hall on Monday, April 4 from 7pm.
Interested parties have until Thursday, April 14 to comment on the planning application, which can be found online at http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/planninganddevelopment.htm using the reference number 16/02126/FUL