December 12 2013 Latest news:
Sunday, September 8, 2013
Objections have been voiced over proposals to knock down a community hall and build a potter’s studio and gallery in its place.
The plans for the site of the St John Ambulance building on Chapel Road in Wivenhoe have been submitted on behalf of potter Pru Green and are due to be discussed by members of the planning committee at Colchester Borough Council next week.
This is the third time the application has come before the committee with two previous applications having been refused because members felt if the hall was knocked down it would constitute “an unacceptable loss of community facilities” in Wivenhoe.
The current application includes an assessment of existing community facilities in the town in order to show there are adequate alternatives to the St John Ambulance building. The application states there is more than 4000m2 of community floorspace in town – well above the legal planning limit – but the planning officers’ report points out not all the facilities can be hired in the evenings while others incur an evening or daily cost and so could be prohibitive for a group looking to hire a venue for an hour or two.
The application has been opposed by the town council and the Wivenhoe Society, who both want the St John Ambulance building preserved.
Town mayor Andrea Vaughan said the application was “disingenuous” in its attempt to show the town already had enough community spaces.
She said: “We are not against the building plans - in fact, the architecture looks interesting - but we don’t want it on the site of the St John Building.
“Some of the space mentioned in the application is upstairs at pubs which can’t be accessed by wheelchair users. We have also lost valuable community space recently with the closure of the Philips Road centre, which is owned by Essex County Council.”
Supporters of the application say the St John Ambulance building has no merit and its condition is deteriorating.