Residents’ wrangle over college building’s future

A CHANGE in mind by college bosses to not build a performing arts centre close to homes in Weston has failed to settle nearby residents’ concerns.

Weston College instead wants to refurbish its Hans Price building in Lower Church Road for a ‘multi-function’ site for conferences, higher education lectures and interviews.

It follows the ditching of its initial proposal to expand the three-storey building and transform it into a performing arts centre.

However, residents in South Terrace, who face onto the currently disused building, say they still fear disturbance from teaching and students.

They have also expressed concern that there will be no restrictions attached to the building on when lessons can take place.

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Martin Wride, who owns two houses in South Terrace, said: “The proposed redevelopment will have a detrimental impact on the lives of all the people living in South Terrace, in terms of noise, traffic and students hanging around.

“The breakout of noise is a major worry. The size of the rooms being created to the rear of the building mean these spaces could be simply used for any purpose. This would be combined with the associated car and pedestrian noise, that is bound to occur.”

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But the college principal, Dr Paul Phillips, has responded, claiming the ‘multi-function’ use would result in less noise disturbance than a performing arts centre.

He said the building would have four large rooms, each able to hold up to 50 students.

He said: “I am surprised the residents are continuing to raise such issues for something which is going to be much lower in scale.

“The building, which in the main would be used as a conference centre, would be far quieter than an arts centre and would be a major improvement for residents living nearby.”

But Mr Wride said: “The Hans Price building, whilst looking good from the outside, is in poor condition but that does not mean that we need to accept these proposals in their present form.

“The college could refurbish the building and return it to its former glory and use it as an art college once again.”

A decision on the planning application by North Somerset Council is expected within the next two weeks.

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