An application for change of use for Marlborough College’s ‘Newlands’ building was met with a unanimous ‘objection’ at the Town Council Planning Committee meeting on Monday (09 January) evening of this week.
The College had originally submitted an application in November – PL/2022/08977 – but this was withdrawn. This latest application, PL/2022/09381 is for change of use: from two flats (used by staff) to a boarding house for students.
The Committee objected ‘on the grounds of noise impact to neighbours; change of use (and would ask the Officer to check for any covenants concerning the use of the building); the change in character/townscape of the proposed steps and lighting to this residential area of special quality; light pollution in a dark area; the lack of any consultation notices posted nearby for neighbours to be alerted to the planning application and lack of consultation letters for near neighbours of the property’.
The meeting started with questions from residents adjacent to ‘Newlands’ (in Hyde Lane) all of whom were – as well as asking questions about this application – registering their concerns and objections.
One main reason for the neighbours’ concerns centred on the lack of consultation / notification.
One affected neighbour pointed out that “Of the six adjoining properties, only four were on the “list of neighbours notified” – and they only got the letter just before Christmas – one of which is actually owned by the College. No-one was consulted before this rushed application was submitted. Two close neighbours were neither contacted nor consulted, finding out from other neighbours, since no planning notice has been displayed at the property either.”
Another major concern for this change of use application was that it would set a precedent. A neighbour noted that it was “essentially a change of use from residential (staff paying rent) to business (fee paying boarders), a worrying precedent to be set for an Area of Special Quality”.
Other objections raised by residents included:
Character: A new flight of concrete steps and additional lighting on path and building which would materially change the character of the area which is rural and naturally dark at night.
Vista: Newlands overlooks, and is heavily overlooked by several private houses. A critical schoolchild safeguarding concern raised by the college itself when discounting sites within its campus for their proposed temporary boarding house, PL 2022/05388, also awaiting a planning decision.
Location: It is a long way from the main college facilities and well outside the existing educational complex, again key reasons cited by the college itself in discounting on-campus options for the proposed temporary boarding house.
Supervision and noise: The house would be minimally supervised and the boarders are likely to create noise nuisance in this quiet residential area, detrimental to neighbourhood amenity.
Traffic: They were also concerned that vehicle access for the increased traffic from parents and support staff was inadequate and potentially dangerous. Hyde Lane is at its narrowest at this point, next to a blind corner and increasingly used as a rat-run to avoid the High Street.
They felt that the use of Newlands by students would lead to an increased number of them regularly crossing, or walking down, Hyde Lane during the hours of darkness, posing a significant risk to both individual and motorist.
This application will now go to the Wiltshire Council ‘East’ Planning Committee for a decision.