Academy permitted to trial later use of hall

Claire Adams, vice-principal of St George's Academy and head of campus at Ruskington, in the new hall EMN-160419-164032001
Claire Adams, vice-principal of St George's Academy and head of campus at Ruskington, in the new hall EMN-160419-164032001

A Ruskington school has been allowed to extend the hours of use of its assembly hall for a two-year trial period despite residents’ and local councillor concerns about potential disturbance to neighbours.

North Kesteven District Council planning committee agreed to the request last Tuesday by Wayne Birks, principal of St George’s Academy, who said that they simply wished to offer the same facilities for such things as parents’ evenings and evening drama performances and concerts that they do at their Sleaford campus.

A two storey assembly hall was permitted to be built onto one end of the school building after winning an appeal to the planning inspectorate in 2013. The inspector limited its hours of use until 8pm on weekdays and not at all at weekends to restrict disturbance to close neighbours on Hawthorn Close. However, Mr Birks requested to extend the hours to 10pm to enable them to properly hold annual prize giving ceremonies and student performances as an 8pm limit was ‘unreasonable’. Currently they have to shorten shows or hold them in the dining hall and sports hall where later usage hours are permitted until 11pm.

Michael Grant of Hawthorn Close, said that, neighbours raised objections after the school hosted a ceilidh event on a Saturday last year, put on by the Friends of St George’s, which went on until after midnight, breaching the conditions. He said: “Our quality of life would be eroded.”

Residents were supported by Parish Councillor Peter Cunningham and ward district councillors Richard Wright and Terry Boston. But planning officers said that as this was a one-off it was no grounds for refusal.

Coun Boston argued: “The hall plans went to appeal and one of the significant problems considered by the inspector was an issue about noise. The residents tell me that during the day during normal activities, particularly drums being played, they hear it in their houses.” He said the inspector must have carefully considered the time restrictions on that basis.

“Residents want a peaceful life to sit out in their gardens without being disturbed. This cannot take place if an extension is allowed,” he said.

Coun Lance Pennell proposed full permission but on a trial basis, which was agreed, to allow for proper noise testing during events, to be reviewed once the temporary period ends.