A school extension has been approved by councillors despite concerns the new building looks like “an Amazon warehouse.” Hastings High School, in Burbage, near Hinckley, is to get a new sports hall, classrooms, dining room and bigger car park in a bid to increase capacity at the site, after Leicestershire County Council backed the scheme at a planning meeting last week.

Taking into account the new housing planned for the area, the council, which is also the applicant, predicts the school will have a deficit of more than 100 places by January 2026 unless the changes are made. The extension will increase the school’s capacity by 200 pupils to 1,000.

However, neighbours of the school raised a number of concerns about the plan, including the impact on their peace and privacy, and views from their homes and gardens. Speaking at the meeting, one neighbour said the new building would be around the height of “two-and-a-half double-decker buses” and the width of three-and-a-half. She added that it looked “like an industrial shed”.

“It will be overbearing and will significantly affect our amenity,” she said. “This will be like an Amazon warehouse. The design is not contemporary in a positive sense, it’s not traditional, but neither is it beautiful or attractive. It is functional and bland.” She called on the council to change the design and to give residents “something beautiful to look at”, rather than something that “fills them with despair”.

Criticism was also levelled at the local authority for the level of engagement with the community, with neighbours claiming they felt like the scheme was “a done deal”, and that they were “powerless” and had to “fight for information” throughout the process. The council’s education team acknowledged residents should have been consulted sooner on the plan, and said they would be taking this up with the design team, which had responsibility for public engagement on the scheme.

Councillors agreed with residents’ criticisms over the appearance of the building. However, they said they did not feel that was a valid planning reason to reject the scheme, and ultimately voted to approve it.

Chairman of the meeting Les Phillimore said: “Reluctantly, I will have to agree with the proposal [to approve the application] simply because I cannot think of any planning reasons not to support it. Do I agree with residents that it’s not the prettiest building? Absolutely.” However, he said the committee would write to the council’s design team to “make the strongest representations” it could saying councillors wanted to see the design altered.

The new sports hall is to be built next to the school’s existing running track. It will have four badminton-sized courtschanging facilities, toilets and showers, space for storing equipment as well as a PE classroom and dance studio. It will also house a music and drama teaching space, a general-use classroom, two design technology classrooms and two science classrooms, along with an office and reception area.

The existing sports hall in the main school building will be turned into a larger dining room. New toilet blocks will be created in the main building and the school kitchen will be expanded, plans show. Staff numbers will increase from 100 to 120, the council said.

Source: Yahoo! News

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