EXPANSION plans by Salisbury’s Studio Theatre have failed to gain the support city councillors.

The popular amateur group wants to extend its building in Ashley Road to provide a rehearsal studio, dressing rooms and storage space and take down three trees to create some extra parking on land towards the back of the building.

“The current premises are just not big enough for all the activities that now take place,” says its planning application.

But conservation campaigners have objected to the parking plan, saying it will encroach on one of the few remaining green spaces alongside the River Avon in this part of the city.

South Wiltshire Agenda 21 says the riverbank it is an important wildlife corridor in an area dominated by car parks, and putting in a hard surface close to the water risks it being polluted by run-off.

It adds that the building’s parking provision already meets current standards, and the theatre should be asked to draw up a sustainable travel plan, with cycle parking on site and improved lighting along the riverside path.

“We would not wish to undermine the contribution the Studio Theatre makes to the arts in the city,” says Agenda 21, “but object to any further erosion of the green corridors which extend into the heart of the city.”

On Monday the city’s planning committee echoed these concerns and recommended that Studio Theatre should look at a design that would fit within the existing footprint of the site, and should explore opportunities for sharing parking with the Five Rivers community campus.

Wiltshire Council planners will decide on the application later this summer.