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Hull planners back controversial changes to Leslie Martin building

Controversial plans to extend a Hull University auditorium designed by architect Leslie Martin have been approved despite concerns the work would ‘irrevocably compromise’ the structure.

The university this week won approval for its proposals for Middleton Hall, which include an extextension for an ‘ambisonic’ surround-sound studio, a new stage deliveries entrance and internal alterations.

A programme of roof repairs has also been approved for the grade II-listed building, which was designed by Martin in 1962 and completed five years later.

The university argued that the hall was its premier location for graduation ceremonies, inaugural lectures and performing arts events, but did not ‘function well’ for its current uses, prompting the need for upgrade work.

Its archtiects for the scheme are Westray Keith Phelps.

English Heritage did not object to the application, but conceded that the proposals would ‘clearly involve some harm’ on the grounds that ‘two of Leslie Martin’s elevations will be modified and changes will be made to the plan of the original building’.

Twentieth Century Society director Catherine Croft said the university was ‘jeopardising’ its own heritage at a time when Sir Leslie’s work still awaited proper study.

‘The proposals threaten to irrevocably compromise the architecture of Middleton Hall,’ she said.

‘It would be inconceivable to treat a listed building of an earlier century in this way.

‘The university is jeopardising the value of its own heritage, and English Heritage is not standing up for the special interest of this building.

‘English Heritage needs an injection of resources to speed up the assessment of outstanding listing cases – particularly for vulnerable buildings like this, where the architectural value is not fully understood.’

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