Courting controversy at Worcester

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Worcester College has announced plans to build a new lecture theatre on one of its tennis courts.

The planned building would include not only a lecture theatre but also additional meeting rooms and a studio. If planning permission is granted, it will be completed in early 2016.

The Estates Bursar explained why such a project is necessary, saying, “Worcester has no facilities of appropriate size – we have a  forty-seat lecture theatre and a seventy to eighty-seat flat meeting room, so we need one so that we can accommodate entire year groups, and generally improve student facilities.”

The plans have been met with enthusiasm by Worcester students, Alfie Hinchliffe, the JCR President, said, “The Worcester JCR loves the plans for the new lecture theatre. It’s not as though it’s going to be a noisy, lengthy, disruptive building project that will obscure the views from our existing accommodation like Exeter’s proposal would, will it? Oh wait… But in all seriousness, the theatre plans look good. In fact Worcester students love building. We’ve spent the past year building a very impressive new relationship between ourselves and the Exeter JCR. Admittedly there was some disruption (and the roof is very garish) but it does have excellent views of a future with us living together as happy neighbours.”

Hinchliffe’s comments touch on previous contentions between Exeter and Worcester over Exeter’s plans to develop what was previously Ruskin College. In Trinity last year Worcester’s Provost, Professor Jonathan Bate, sent an email to Worcester JCR encouraging students to complain about Exeter’s plans, noting such issues as “inappropriately garish and intrusive materials proposed for its roof and upper level.”  Such comments were met with criticism from his own students.

In this instance, Exeter’s Rector Frances Cairncorss has been slightly more reserved, encouraging Exeter students to attend a public consultation. “Since this may affect the views from our new Walton Street Building, it would be useful for as many people as possible to have an opportunity to view and comment upon their proposal,” Cairncross said.

However, Exeter JCR President Ed Nickell appears fully behind the plans: “This lecture room is a good thing for Worcester students and Exeter JCR would never stand in the way of that. Just as Worcester JCR did not stand in the way of Exeter increasing our currently paltry accommodation provision. There is much more solidarity amongst JCR members than amongst Heads of houses! Thanks to this solidarity, Worcester will gain a lecture room and Exonians will escape evil landlords, mouldy bedrooms and exorbitant rents.

A public consultation will be held at 2pm on Thursday 21 November.

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