Like many local residents, I attended the public consultation on plans for the Duke’s School and surrounding grounds.
Having lived next door to the school for the last 16 years, and recently watched fencing being erected and windows boarded up, I was keen to see what will become of this historic building.
Unfortunately, the presentations could not have been more disappointing.
The scale and appearance of the developments proposed appeared to be motivated by generating maximum profit for owners and developers, with scant regard for the impact on the existing local community, let alone the previously agreed Neighbourhood Plan.
I am not some naive ‘nimby’ looking to object to any development out of narrow-minded principal. I understand that development will be necessary to secure the future of this important building and that this will have to be financially viable, in fact I welcome this.
However, the proposals seem to focus on the profit for those set to benefit from the development than a genuine desire to preserve the old building.
The new extension on the north elevation is entirely out of keeping and proportion with the existing grade II listed building, doubling the footprint of what it is set to replace.
The two-storey 1960s built classroom block would be demolished and replaced by a three-storey box, extending almost to the north boundary of the school.
The unfortunate consequence is that the imposing new block will cast two-thirds of my garden in direct shade from the sun mid-morning to late afternoon. Hopefully, the planning department will take this into consideration, but it would surely have been better if the developers had proposed a more modest development in keeping with the existing building and footprint.
Similarly, the proposed development at the south end of the site appears to reflect a desire to generate maximum profits with complete disregard for existing residents and, more importantly, the Neighbourhood Plan.
Building numerous, four-storey apartment blocks over every square inch of designated green area that the developers think they can get away with seems both inappropriate and unnecessary.
I notice that the Northumberland Estates website reports that the proposals were greeted with overwhelming support.
This certainly does not reflect the mood of the meeting I attended.
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