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Friday, 24 October 2014

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Town Hall plans like ‘third-rate 60s school’, say Eden councillors

Councillors have rejected plans for a revamped town hall in Penrith saying they were like a “third rate secondary school from the 1960s.”

Penrith town hall graphic
An image of the proposed extension to Penrith Town Hall

Eden councillors voted by seven votes to two to refuse the scheme for an extension to the town hall, which could house all council staff if they move to operate from one site rather than two.

Details of the proposed scheme were given to councillors by architect Paul Brunsdon, who said it was of contemporary design and materials, but would not detract from the appearance of the town hall.

The plans showed the town hall would be linked to the extension by a two storey glazed structure.

Mr Brunsdon said it was environmentally friendly, with large areas of glass to provide natural light, triple glazed for insulation and had solar panels to generate electricity.

He told a planning meeting that it followed principles encouraged by English Heritage, adding: “It’s a building of its time, but it draws on the context of the area.”

But Margaret Clark, an independent councillor, likened the building to a third-rate secondary school from the 60s.

Committee members examined samples of some of the materials proposed – a ceramic facing tile and metal roofing section.

The meeting also heard from planning officer Daniel Addis, who said people living in neighbouring properties would suffer a reduced level of amenity and access, but that this was thought to be “acceptable”.

The design was praised by councillor John Thompson who described it as “futuristic and impressive”, adding that its vertical lines would marry up well with those of the town hall.

However, Mrs Clark did not agree, saying the design was not in keeping with its surroundings. Debra Wicks described the design as “hideous” and said it showed no respect for the existing town hall.

And Henry Sawrey-Cookson said the proposed extension was “by no means good enough” for a conservation area and would “compromise the town hall’s fine design”.

The meeting heard that Penrith Civic Society had not had a good word to say about it.

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