Midhurst Rother College plans on track

One of the last hurdles hindering the building of the new Midhurst Rother College was removed when Chichester district councillors withdrew their objections to plans.

They now say revised designs for the new school are an ‘improvement’ on the original proposals and have agreed not to continue objecting to the design.

At an earlier meeting, district councillors agreed to lodge a strong objection to the design, roundly criticised by members, with one comparing it to a Ford Open Prison annexe.

But West Sussex county councillors then granted planning permission for the development, although they agreed issues over the design of the front elevation and the car-parking layout should be addressed and referred back to the county planning committee for consideration in January.

The district committee agreed not to continue objecting to the designs. It ‘noted’ the revisions were an improvement, and agreed to ask for additional landscaping to be undertaken to the southern boundary of the car park layout, and also around the entrance.

A report by planning officers said revisions had included the rearrangement of windows to the southern part of the main elevation and the replacement of a pitched roof over the northern wing with a flat one set behind a parapet.

The original ‘rather weak’ entrance canopy had been replaced with a more robust blue brick structure and greater prominence had been given to the library.

Changes had not fully matched members’ concerns, but some improvements had been achieved.

Northern area planning manager David Few said although the county council had approved the application, it had acknowledged district council concerns and those of the National Park by stipulating there should be revisions to the design.

At their planning meeting members of the South Downs National park Authority said they still had reservations about the design and still believed the new building should reflect the character of the area.