VILLAGERS have branded new primary school classrooms “an eyesore” and said the council ignored their concerns that the design was not appropriate for a conservation area.

Nigel Walker of the Downton Society said the plastic panels used for the new extension at Downton Primary School were “a visible blot” on the surrounding area.

“The school is in a conservation area,” he said. “The original building is listed and there are other listed buildings in the immediate vicinity.”

He said “the face is a complete eyesore” and said it contradicted national and local policy that contemporary buildings in conservation areas must be in keeping with the immediate environment.

And Mr Walker said Downton Parish Council, Downton Society and villagers “formally, and consistently, raised concerns with Wiltshire Council at the planning stage” but that their concerns were ignored.

Of 13 Downton respondents to the planning consultation, five raised concerns about the plastic cladding.

Wiltshire Council’s own conservation officer Jocelyn Sage said she had reservations about the material.

Downton resident Bryan Morris, of The Borough, said: “Great care needs to be taken to ensure that whatever cladding is used is suitable for the environment in which it sits.”

And Rick Ladds, also of The Borough, asked if residents would also be allowed to put brightly coloured plastic cladding on the fronts of their grade II listed buildings.

“If not then there appears to be one rule for council-proposed buildings and another rule for the rest,” he added.

Mr Walker said: “Wiltshire Council states that they ‘work in partnership to protect conservation areas’. This latest project strongly suggests otherwise.” Wiltshire Council was approached for comment.