PLANS to turn an old school building into council offices have been slammed for 'disregarding its historic and aesthetic importance'.

The Cathedral Chapter, which owns the site, applied to change the use of Leaden Hall, at 70 The Close, from education to offices and meeting rooms for the Dean and staff of Salisbury Cathedral.

This would involve demolishing part of the Grade I listed building, adding a one-storey extension and carrying out repairs.

Permission to build an archive building for Salisbury Cathedral next door is included in the application.

Chapter also wants to make Stephenson Hall, at the rear of Leaden Hall, a mixed-use building so it can be used for meetings and performance.

Read more: ​Plans lodged to convert Leaden Hall, Cathedral Close, into offices

Roughly four months after Salisbury Cathedral School merged with Leaden Hall School, on  July 5, 2016, the site shut down as the "costs and complications" of the separate site "outweighed the advantages of extra space".

Salisbury Journal: Leaden Hall closed as a school in 2016.Leaden Hall closed as a school in 2016. (Image: Newsquest)

The planning application has been met with a barrage of objections.

The Environment Agency objected to the plans for three reasons: the risks to groundwater, the unknown impact to ecology and the lack of an acceptable flood risk assessment.

Terry Byrne, chairman of Salisbury Cathedral Close Preservation Society, wants Leaden Hall to return to residential use but said the main issue is that the building "urgently" needs maintenance and restoration.

Leaden Hall remained a canonical residence until 1947 and in 1948 it became a private preparatory school.

Read more: Old school building dates back to 1232

He said: "It’s in a fairly terrible state. We want immediate attention to the house itself and want the removal of Stevenson Hall.

"There are a number of empty houses in ownership of the Chapter and, like many institutions, they are strapped for money. They have done a magnificent job with the restoration of the cathedral but the Close itself has been badly neglected."

Salisbury Journal: Terry Byrne, chairman of Salisbury Cathedral Close Preservation Society.Terry Byrne, chairman of Salisbury Cathedral Close Preservation Society. (Image: Newsquest)

Mr Byrne wants Stephenson Hall to be pulled down and scrapped from plans but Chapter has argued: "To demolish the perfectly functional Stephenson Hall and rebuild something the same size nearby wouldn’t be financially or environmentally sustainable."

Sandy King opposed the plans, saying: "This planning application shows an astonishing disregard for the historical and aesthetic importance of the site and I cannot support it."

Nico Villeneuve also submitted an objection. He said: "It would be clearly the best solution for this property to revert to being a single dwelling, the purpose for which it was originally built.

"The proposal for offices and other uses on this important listed site is at odds with the last masterplan produced by the Cathedral."

Salisbury Journal: Stephenson Hall is at the rear of Leaden Hall.Stephenson Hall is at the rear of Leaden Hall. (Image: Newsquest)

Meanwhile Susan Davenport, who lives in the Close, said: "The Chapter is to be applauded on its carefully considered and meticulously researched project which we support.

"The site evolved in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and again in the early-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Now is the moment for it to embark on the next chapter in its history."

Chapter concluded that Leaden Hall is "vulnerable" and said a significant amount of money is required to repair and upgrade the building.

"The proposed application will enable this important conservation work to be undertaken, but will also provide the facilities listed opposite at Leaden Hall to support the operation and mission of Salisbury Cathedral for the foreseeable future," Chapter commented in its submission to Wiltshire Council.

Jackie Molnar, chapter clerk and chief operating officer at Salisbury Cathedral, said: “The Leaden Hall planning application is out for consultation and within a planning process, the cathedral will await the outcome of the decision”.

The deadline for comments on the planning application (PL/2024/00373) is Thursday, February 29.