‘We were much too trusting of council’

BLINDED BY LIGHT: Neighbours Sue Hamilton Blyth and Janet Knight say the school's extension was a shock.
BLINDED BY LIGHT: Neighbours Sue Hamilton Blyth and Janet Knight say the school's extension was a shock.

Lavenham householders say a new industrial-looking primary school extension should never have been built in a conservation area.

This week, Suffolk County Council contractors returned to the village’s Victorian school to put up scaffolding to re-render the building at a cost of £10,000. The original yellow is now a toned-down cream.

This follows complaints from residents about the extension being out-of-character with the many listed and old buildings surrounding it. Residents also believe the aluminium-clad roof is too modern for its surroundings, saying it blinds them when the sun catches it.

Sue Hamilton Blyth, from Shilling Street, which runs parallel to Barn Street, said residents were told the extension would be “in harmony” with its surroundings.

“The new building was described to us as a timber-framed, eco-friendly building, with half of the new split-level roof to be a green ‘living roof’,” she said. “The exterior colour was to blend in with the brick of the main Victorian school building.

“It never occured to us something like this, which wouldn’t look out of place on an industrial site, would be built in a conservation area, and we feel we have been labouring under a false sense of security. We were much too trusting of the council.”

Janet and John Knight’s Shilling Street garden overlooks the school extension – built to cope with an increase in pupil numbers brought on by the county’s switch from a three-tier to two-tier education system.

“I can’t believe it,” said Mrs Knight. “I remember I asked the foreman when the roof would be finished. When he said it was, I was really shocked. I was expecting roof tiles to blend in.”

A county council spokesman said: “The planning officer wanted the building to complement the existing building rather than attempt to copy the Victorian brick building. This is not an unusual approach when adding new buildings to an old site.”

She said the roof would naturally oxidise within two years, reducing glare.