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School dining hall plans beside Norwich Cathedral prompts opposition over tree felling

PUBLISHED: 13:07 29 October 2020 | UPDATED: 13:07 29 October 2020

Impression of the revised plans by Norwich School for new facilities and landscaping at its site in the Cathedral's Upper Close. Picture: LSI Architects

Impression of the revised plans by Norwich School for new facilities and landscaping at its site in the Cathedral's Upper Close. Picture: LSI Architects

Norwich School

An independent school’s revised plans for an expansion of facilities next Norwich Cathedral has been opposed because it still involves felling historic trees.

Impression of the revised plans by Norwich School for new facilities and landscaping at its site in the Cathedral's Upper Close. Picture: LSI ArchitectsImpression of the revised plans by Norwich School for new facilities and landscaping at its site in the Cathedral's Upper Close. Picture: LSI Architects

The Norwich School has submitted updated proposals for new dining and teaching facilities, together with landscaped outdoor spaces and improved access, at its Bishop’s Palace Lawn site in Cathedral Close.

A previous application was refused by Norwich City Council’s planning committee who voted by six votes to five against with members saying losing trees was against the council’s own policies.

Among the trees affected is a 35-metre London Plane estimated to be between 150 and 200 years old and protected by a tree preservation order.

Steffan Griffiths, headmaster of Norwich School. Picture: Autumn LewisSteffan Griffiths, headmaster of Norwich School. Picture: Autumn Lewis

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The school said landscaping proposals on its new plans had been expanded to include 21 replacement and new trees on the site, including two large trees which will be “significant visible additions”.

Steffan Griffiths, Norwich School’s headmaster, said: “The school is proud of the improvements made to its submission to develop the historic Bishop’s Palace Lawn site, intended as a major contribution to life and facilities in the centre of our fine city.

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“Our proposals for the landscaping and townscaping elements of our application have addressed head-on the reasons for our 2019 refusal; there are over 900 new trees to be planted in total, of which over 80 are in the Cathedral precinct’s Conservation Area and, of these, more than 20 in the development site itself.

“We are pleased with the levels of support shown for our enhanced plans, reflective of the unambiguous support also received in a public consultation involving the neighbouring area and stakeholders carried out in March.”

The new plans have drawn 34 supportive public comments, but 14 people have objected, including the city council’s tree protection officer who states: “I submit that the opportunity to plant new trees in the majority of these locations has existed for many years. Making this positive change does not require the removal of protected trees.”

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The new facilities that replace a prefabricated building that dates back to the 1960s, include a new dining hall seating 350 that would also be used by community, charitable and educational groups, as well as by the school.

One of the public comments in support of the plan states: “The current refectory building is an eyesore in a listed area and is no longer fit for purpose. The replacement will be significantly more environmentally friendly and will benefit the wider Norwich community.

“The proposal to plant so many new trees, not only inside Cathedral Close, but also in the city suburbs will significantly compensate for the loss of few trees and is very welcome.

“I am also sure the residents of the Great Hospital will also be appreciative of their new woodland walk.”


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