A student at Marlborough College has surprisingly entered the debate that engulfed the community last year and declared that the College’s takeover of the Ivy House Hotel will have a positive outcome for the town.
Following the planning battle over the conversion of the grade II listed hotel as a hostel for girl students, which split town and gown, Lucy Parker claims it will have a beneficial social and economic effect.
“Overall, I think that it will be positive for the town despite anxieties about the security of the pupils and residents,” she says. “I think this because it will not only help the economy but also social inter-action.”
“A College housemistress summed this up by saying that the house was ‘an exciting development for one of the strongest aspects of the College…the girls!’”
Those girls in the past have included the Duchess of Cambridge, other members of the royal family, and the wives of Prime minister David Cameron, Chancellor George Osborne, and the Speaker’s wife, Sally Bercow.
The comments are made in the latest issue of ‘Tower and Town’ magazine, produced monthly by Marlborough’s churches and very much the voice of the Christian community.
Lucy Parker poses the questions whether the opening of the new girls’ boarding house in September will mean that “the College becomes an overwhelming presence for the town’s residents” or whether “the benefits improve the reputation of the College” among residents and local businesses.
And she replies: “On the one hand, it can be argued that an extra 50 girls in the school still have a negative impact on relations between College and town.”
“Firstly, there is the issue that the town will be losing a potential source of income through the tourism industry if the hotel closes.”
“The (Wiltshire) Council’s planning committee felt that this loss would be ‘detrimental to the vitality and viability of the area as a consequence of lost local employment’.”
“Nicholas Fogg, a Marlborough town councillor, said it was a ‘disaster for the town’.”
“Secondly, there is the worry that the increase in teenagers will mean that College pupils could become dominant on the High Street during term time, one elderly resident said ‘it can be intimidating’.”
She continues: “Another issue, arising from the College no longer being contained at one end of the town, is the security of the new pupils, especially on a Saturday night.”
“However, on the other hand, many parents of pupils at the school and the businesses in the town would argue that the new house is a positive thing.”
“One reason is that the new house will help the further integration of the College an town, as the Master of Marlborough College said, ‘The town and gown are not separate, but share an inter-dependent life together’.”
“An example of this is when College pupils are given local responsibilities on a Wednesday afternoon, such as helping at local primary schools or with ‘riding for the disabled’.”
“Moreover, it is essential that the new house will generate a far great sum than the hotel was, so it could be argued that economically the new boarding house will be a good development.”