A ROW broke out over Marlborough College's latest building plan for a new music school even before town council planners started their meeting on Monday.

The public school's estates bursar, Simon Eveleigh, bursar David Williamson, and architect David Bryant attended the council's planning meeting to give councillors a preview of the plan.

There had recently been criticism of the college for not consulting the council more over its controversial planning application for a new sports pavilion. Objectors said it would mar open views across an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Coun Richard Allen said he was surprised the college was being allowed to give a preview of its plans to the council when other developers were not afforded the same opportunity.

He said: "If it is decided to continue with this presentation I will leave the meeting.

"If one applicant is to be invited to do this then all should be invited."

Coun Allen together with Coun Michael Gray and Coun Peggy Dow left the room for the duration of the presentation.

Coun Stewart Dobson said developers had been invited in the past to give submissions on major planning applications including the proposed single site school for St John's.

Mr Eveleigh said the existing music school between the Norwood Hall dining hall and A House had outgrown its building. "It is too small and in many respects unsafe," he said.

He showed the council plans and an artist's impression of a new music school adjacent to the Mount House in Bridewell Street that is already used by the school as an arts gallery.

It is proposed to demolish the old music school and use some of the garden area in front of it

Mr Eveleigh said the architects had looked at ways of incorporating the 100-year-old music school buildings which are not listed buildings into the new arts school.

"We came to the conclusion the only way we could put a building large enough for our needs on that site would be to demolish the old music school."

He said the same architects who had designed the school's new swimming pool and the Henry Honey theatre complex had designed the proposed new arts school.

Councillors were shown plans and artist's impressions of the new building with a curved glass front facing the main A4 road.

Mr Eveleigh said the building was designed around the mature sycamore tree which Kennet District Council's conservation officers wanted retained in the garden in front of the old music school.

Mr Bryant, the architect told councillors that art studios required large windows for maximum natural light. The materials used for the building would match those in neighbouring buildings.

The college has given an undertaking to Kennet that if the sycamore tree died as a result of the building work another semi-mature specimen would replace it.

Answering questions from councillors, Mr Williamson said students would be expected to use existing crossings on the A4, and it was not anticipated a new crossing would be needed for the new art school.

Councillors withheld any comments on the proposed new building until a formal planning application has been received from the school.