Calne sports hall backed despite complaints

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Deputy mayor Heather Canfer Deputy mayor Heather Canfer

PLANS for a new sports hall at St Mary’s School in Calne have been given the go-ahead despite concerns over its impact on neighbouring houses and a cemetery.

The private boarding school, for girls aged 11 to 18, is to get a new sports hall built onto the side of its existing swimming pool, replacing an area now used for parking.

The extension will provide changing rooms, sports storage and a plant room at ground floor level, with a first floor containing a dance studio, further storage and an external viewing area.

Residents collected 335 signatures on a petition against the plans and wrote to Wiltshire Council before the application was discussed on Thursday.

They said the height of the building was a major issue as it would overlook houses in Springfield Drive and those visiting St Mary’s cemetery.

Sonia Sandell, of Wyvern Avenue, said: “As it stands, the cemetery is a haven of serenity and I personally spend some time visiting the grave of my late husband. The last thing I want is the noise of a sports centre intruding on my thoughts in moments of contemplation.”

But planning officer Charmain Burkey said St Mary’s originally gained permission for a sports hall in 1998 and this was still valid, meaning the larger original design could be built at any time.

Division member Tony Trotman said the school had submitted at least two amendments to the original plans in a bid to make the design acceptable.

He said: “The latest plans show a reduction of the footprint has taken place, but little has been done to reduce the height and to mitigate the impact on the listed boundary wall. It will have an impact not only on the cemetery and the new remembrance garden but also on the residential dwellings.”

Calne’s deputy mayor Heather Canfer said: “I hate to say it, but from the site it looks like an aircraft hanger. It really is going to be extremely huge. The scale is just completely out of keeping within the lovely quiet cemetery. It’s just in the wrong place.”

Permission for the new sports hall comes with a long list of planning conditions, including soundproofing for the sports hall and the preparation of a school travel plan. Building work will also have to be halted during any funerals at the cemetery.

Wiltshire councillor Peter Hutton said: “It does put us in a difficult position. If we refuse this we will get a bigger building and I don’t think that’s the right way forward.”

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