8:20pm Wednesday 18th April 2012
By Will Lodge
A MULTI-MILLION pound expansion planned for Colchester Academy will be a fantastic resource for the community, according to the headteacher.
Residents flocked to a display showing plans for a new school building.
Colchester Academy, in Hawthorn Avenue, Greenstead, is planning a £15.2 million sports complex and theatre to replace its outdated facilities.
Builders and architects explained the designs at a public exhibition showing what the building will look like.
Principal Barry Hersom said: “It is excellent the local community is taking an interest.
“We will try to anticipate any concerns there may be in the design process. Any comments will be passed on to the planners for their consideration.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for the school to have fabulous new buildings and it is not just a resource for young people, but also for the community.”
However, a letter sent to residents outlining the proposals has led to a backlash from neighbours.
Homeowners in Acacia Avenue, which will be overlooked by the new building, say the site is too close to their homes and will block light, cause traffic problems and devalue their properties.
Residents also say the length of the proposed building means many of the windows will face directly into theirs.
But plenty of people at yesterday’s consultation support the plans.
Terry Marshall, 72, of Magnolia Drive, said: “If anyone wants to put £15million into our estate, instead of giving them grief we should be welcoming them.
“The plans are very impressive. I really can’t see how anyone can knock them.
“I live across from the playing fields and if anyone has a problem with it, it would be me.”
Ann Bassingthwaite, of Chaffinch Gardens, said: “I think it is an excellent school. My daughter is 46 and my son is 44 and they both came here, and my granddaughter just finished here. She is dyslexic but she got three A’s in her GCSEs.
“The school has always been excellent. I have never had any trouble.
“I think the new plans look good and I am glad they are keeping the swimming pool.”
If the plans get the green light from Colchester Council the work will start in July and it should be finished by Christmas 2013.
The existing school building will be demolished in spring 2014 to minimise classroom disruption during the building work.
A new landscaped area will be created on the demolition site once works are complete, with plans to plant 2.5 trees for every one lost in the scheme.
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