A DECISION will be made on a hugely controversial bell tower next week.

And planning officers at Worcester City Council have recommended approval of the scheme to build the tower at Christopher Whitehead College.

This is despite dozens of letters to the planning department objecting to the plan to build a performing arts centre with a theatre, dance studios and classrooms which incorporates the 24-metre-high tower, with 12 bells and a viewing platform looking out at Worcester Cathedral.

The report to councillors says that the bells can be rung unmuffled for one hour on 12 days in the year, but can also be used as part of the school’s curriculum muffled between 10am and 6pm.

Many letters and emails sent to the city council are from nearby residents against the plan because they feel the tower is too tall, will overlook their properties and the sound of the bells will disturb them.

One wrote: “It will be an enormous eyesore on the landscape”, while a resident of Bromwich Road wrote: “It is the bells that we strongly object to. In an area as densely populated as this, they would be extremely noisy. The area has already got state of the art bell ringing facilities at St Johns Church and the cathedral.”

Another letter said: “The noise from one bell would be bad but twelve would be horrendous.”

Bedwardine Councillor Alan Amos, sits on the planning committee but he will not speak or vote as a committee member as he wants to speak as a ward councillor.

He said: “They claim this 24m high tower will not be visible; that the viewing platform on top will not overlook any of the properties surrounding it; and that the ringing of the bells will not be heard - if so, what is the point of a Bell Tower! This is all rubbish. They claim its purpose is to enhance the syllabus but there is no such syllabus and no teachers to teach bell-ringing.”

The proposal will be considered by the city council’s planning committee at its meeting on Thursday, February 22 starting at 1.30pm at the Guildhall.