Residents object to proposed sports hall location

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King Edward VI Grammar School has come under fire from residents in Horncastle Road, who have aired strong concerns over the proposed siting for a new sports hall.

As reported previously, head teacher James Lascelles has submitted proposals for a new £2 million sports hall on the school site, which planning documents reveal will be located at the top of the school’s sports field, around 15 metres from the boundary hedge next to Horncastle Road.

This was one of several suggested locations for the proposed sports hall, but, according the school, all other options were deemed unsuitable following internal and external appraisals - for reasons including access, size, traffic impact and safety.

Last week, multiple residents got in touch to air their concerns over the determined location for the proposed hall.

One resident, Terry Holmes, said: “Apart from having a major impact on the view of St James’ Church for the residents of Horncastle Road and surrounding 
area, it will also destroy the view for people visiting the town by road from the by-pass, which is one of the main routes into Louth.

“Most of the residents support the idea of a new sports hall, but are totally against the proposed location.”

Resident Vic Skeath added: “It’s an off the shelf design, has no consideration of its setting within an historic market town, and is to be screened by a non-native evergreen hedge.

“It will block any public view of St James’ Church spire for all users of the Horncastle Road, of which there are many.

“The planning application mentions on numerous occasions the benefits to the public and local community, which would make sense as there is no public access to the site other than through the middle of the school which poses a security risk.

Mr Skeath added: “Before we celebrate a new sports hall for a select few, maybe we need to have a think about the cost to the town’s conservation zone and future precedents.”

A website has been set up by residents objecting to the proposals, including further reasons for their opposition.

This website can be viewed at https://sites.google.com/view/kevigs-sports-hall-unofficial.

Meanwhile, Louth Civic Trust has objected to the proposals on the grounds of the design, size and appearance being ‘inappropriate’ for the conservation area, in addition to the ‘harm’ to the views of St James’ Church.

Louth Town Council expressed its support for the sports hall in principle at the end of last year, but this support is conditional subject to the location.

James Lascelles, the head teacher at King Edward VI Grammar School, reacted to objections before we went to press on Tuesday.

Mr Lascelles said: “The new sports hall plans, the future development of Crowtree House for the Sixth Form, the redevelopment of the old activity hall into a Physics and Engineering Centre of Excellence, and the wider refurbishment of our science laboratories all form part of the school’s longer term estate plans to consolidate and invest in world class facilities on the school’s main site that are accessible to the wider education and sporting community of Louth.

“As the school’s pupil numbers and demand for places continues to accelerate, King Edward’s has to meet the challenge of retaining and working with an ancient estate designed for 500 pupils that will have over 1,000 pupils on site by 2021.

“This growth presents significant challenges as we work with the various restrictions imposed upon us by the nature of the site; its listed buildings and the conservation area whilst at the same time trying to manage the day to day practical and educational needs of an ever growing student population.

“As custodians of the site and its heritage, we recognise and have to work with these sensitivities balancing the protection of this heritage against the practical demands of investing in modern world class facilities for our students and the local community.”

Mr Lascelles continued: “The facilities (sports hall) will be accessible to the Louth sporting clubs, and other community groups as part of our broader commitment to sport and primary education.

“The school is committed to transparency and the various views; photographs and plans can all be seen on the school’s website.”

He added consultations had been held with stakeholders such as pupils, parents, staff, governors, foundation governors and residents, ELDC, town council, sports clubs and Sport England. Read the school’s proposals at www.kevigs.org/sports-hall-bid.

During a Louth Town Council planning committee meeting on Tuesday evening, a number of councillors expressed their dismay with the proposed location - and claimed they had previously been given an ‘economical version of the truth’ with regards to the school’s plans. Since Tuesday, it has also been revealed that Sport England is objecting to the existing proposal - although a spokesman said it would be willing to review their decision subject to further/amended information being provided to address their concerns. Read more on this story in next week’s Leader.