Concerns over college theatre

Designs: Runshaw College on Langdale Road, Leyland, could get a new theatre building on the site, if plans are approved
Designs: Runshaw College on Langdale Road, Leyland, could get a new theatre building on the site, if plans are approved
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Neighbours of Leyland’s Runshaw College have raised concerns over ambitious plans to build a two-storey theatre on the site.

The Guardian has previously reported how bosses at the Langdale Road campus want to demolish one of the older buildings and replace it with a state-of-the-art facility for use by students and the wider community.

But people living in the area have expressed their worries over losing their privacy if the new centre is built.

The planning application is currently with South Ribble Council and a decision is yet to be made over its approval, but some people have written to the planning department about the scheme.

Teresa and Martin Smith, from Langdale Road, wrote: “We are in favour of the college improving facilities, and of the maximisation of space at the college, but only if it is achieved with care and consideration for us, the neighbours.

“As neighbours overlooked by the college, I would like the planning committee to take note of the concerns we have about this new building proposal.

“There is a necessity for adequate and possibly increased screening directly in front of the building.

“The building directly overlooks the houses across the road (particularly the bedrooms) and adequate provision needs to be made to ensure that as neighbours, we have privacy during college hours without having to have our blinds or curtains closed all the time.”

Another resident of Langdale Road expressed concerns about the building work and noise disruption, and added: “I am particularly concerned about the scale of the proposed development which is a two-storey building, whereas the existing is only a single storey.

“What impact will this new building have in respect of additional light and privacy invasion on the local residents?”

It was also claimed that the college has previously removed trees and shrubs to ‘showcase’ its new building works, which have taken place over the past few years, such as the library and student services buildings.

The resident also asks that if approval is given to the new theatre, additional planting be carried out to prevent light pollution and the ‘intrusion of a taller and larger building’.

The resident adds: “What limits will be imposed on the use of this facility? I am particularly concerned that the college will promote its use for public performances and hire outside of normal college hours.

“If this were to happen again there would be a very detrimental impact on residents, particularly in terms of parking, traffic movements and noise.”

The multi-million pound plans include a state-of-the-art theatre to seat up to 300 people, workshops, dressing rooms, music rooms, recording studios, drama studios, a dance studio, rehearsal rooms and social space, including a refreshments bar and box office.

The proposed centre would be used by students, arts groups and local communities, as the college says it regularly receives requests to house teaching and performances from local dance, music and stage schools, but its present resources are inadequate for the job.

At the moment, Runshaw showcases 10 different productions each year in a room which has been transformed into a theatre, which seats around 170 people.

Spokesman for the college, Tim Cahill, responded: “As part of previous projects, the college planted around 120 well-established Laurel bushes along the front perimeter of Langdale Road.

“These were selected due to their fast-growing and spread characteristics.

“We also planted six specimen trees, with an initial height of between five and six metres in the available gaps, whilst the Mardale building has also had around 100 Holly trees planted to give further low-level screening in that area.

“We had to remove some existing trees, but this was specifically to open up a fourth travel lane that can be used when the coaches are parked on site as routes for emergency service vehicles to access effectively.

“The six specimen trees replaced any lost in the available gaps, and we have also removed one tree due to disease in 2012 and removed part of a tree due to storm damage.”

He added: “The college encourages local organisations and neighbours to use or attend events that may be of interest and of benefit to the local community.

“The current theatre is very well used on a large number of occasions across the year, during evenings and weekends.

“The proposed new theatre would be available for use in a similar format.

“Local neighbours are kept informed and invited to of all our shows via our bi-annual community newsletter.”