CONTROVERSIAL plans have been approved to build a new art block at a Winchester sixth-form college, despite objections from dozens of angry residents.

The proposals for Peter Symonds College, in Owens Road, Fulflood, were unanimously approved by members of Winchester City Council’s planning committee, with member expressing ‘reluctant support’ after receiving nearly 100 objections from neighbours and nearby residents.

The decision means the existing changing rooms and cycle storage blocks on the southern part of the sixth-form college’s campus will be demolished to make way for the new 11-metre tall, two-storey art faculty building.

Among the criticisms of the plans were noise from students closer to residential properties, pedestrian access and parking, and whether this was the right location for the new block.

Other complaints included the development being over-bearing and out of keeping with the character of the area.

Vice-principal David Cartwright said: “Peter Symonds makes a hugely positive contribution to Winchester. This isn’t about increasing students, it’s about improving facilities.

“The college has heard public needs. The proposal seeks to minimise the impact, there were no objections from the council’s environmental health officer.”

Amended plans submitted as part of the proposal saw a pedestrian access route removed in a bid to mitigate the development’s impact.

However, Dr Christian Martins, of nearby Cranworth Road, told councillors last Thursday: “Peter Symonds now has 4,000 students. People who live on the roads find the influx is just tolerable, the new building changes that.”

Cllr Ian Tait, conservative member for the St Michael ward, said: “I share the concerns of residents who feel that this is not in the right place. Reluctantly, I’m going to support the application.

“I’m sympathetic to the applicant who has done all they’ve been asked to.”

Cllr Kim Gottlieb added: “I have reservations. Peter Symonds is a superb establishment and if the facilities are not up to scratch, then we should do something about that.

“But like Cllr Tait, I’m in the position of having to reluctantly support the proposal.”

Speaking after the plans were given the go-ahead, Adam Clarke-Williams, of Cranworth Road and speaking on behalf of a number of residents, said: “The residents are very angry, but not surprised. What kind of endorsement is ‘reluctant approval?’

“The outcome was decided when the council directed the college to develop a site next to our homes. But the college – which would have preferred a different site – is not blameless either. It has not been a good neighbour as it has pursued its goal.”

A number of conditions were imposed on the development by city councillor planners as part of the approval.

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