Plans to build an observatory at a Bath boarding school could soon get underway.

The new facility to house Prior Park College’s large telescope was granted planning permission by Bath and North East Somerset Council in December. The Pulsar Dome observatory would be just under three metres high, and would be located in the corner of the private school’s playing fields, a location assessed for the best astronomical position by Simon Holbeche of Bath Astronomers.

In a letter submitted with the school’s planning application in February, estates director Tan Tootill and astronomy lead Andrew Watkinson-Trim said: “Our observatory will be a valuable resource for both the school and the wider community. We aim to operate the facility in conjunction with Bath Astronomers for a range of inclusive activities and cross-community events.”

The letter said that the observatory would support the school’s science curriculum as Astronomical Society, and added: “There are a wider group of students (many of them boarders) whose casual interest in astronomy will be sparked into life by the opportunities for direct observation and imaging that this facility alone can supply.”

Bath has played a key role in the history of astronomy. In 1781, William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus using a homemade telescope from his back garden on King Street — the first planet discovered by telescope.

Prior Park College is a private day and boarding school in a grand Grade I-listed building designed by Bath architect John Wood, the Elder overlooking the Prior Park Landscape Garden.

Granting permission for the plans, the council said that the planned observatory complied with the requirements around persevering the setting of the listed building, although the observatory would have to be a specific shade of pebble grey rather than the initially suggested “not supportable” colour white.