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Thistle Hill's £31m school design is soulless says Minster Parish Council, but architects Hazle McCormack Young LLP defend it

By Emma Grove

Minster Parish Council has described the design of the new school at the Thistle Hill estate as soulless and uninspiring.

But the architects have defended how the building will look – saying they are led by central government and the Education Funding Agency (EFA).

Kent County Council (KCC) has put in an application and is in the process of consulting on proposals for a two-form entry primary school to be built on land next to the community centre on the Minster housing development.

An artist's impression of how the new school at Thistle Hill, Minster could look.
An artist's impression of how the new school at Thistle Hill, Minster could look.

Parish councillors discussed the proposal at a meeting on Thursday and they have formally raised issues to KCC.

In a letter to the authority, clerk Trish Codrington says: “Although Minster Parish Council has no objection to the requirement for a school in this locality, members consider the design of the building to be soulless and uninspiring, feeling it would do nothing for student aspirations.

“Another design with more character would cost the same.”

They suggest KCC draws on past experience in providing imaginative quality design, and notes the expansion of Eastchurch primary in Leysdown and the work done at St George’s primary in Minster – saying these two schools should be used as templates for the Thistle Hill creation.

It continues to say the visual impact of the proposal will be detrimental to the surrounding environment and will not complement the attractiveness of the surrounding dwellings.

Mrs Codrington asked for all these points to be taken into account when KCC formally considers the proposal.

James Robson, who is a partner for the architecture firm Hazle McCormack Young LLP which came up with the plans, said the form, size and model of the building is designed by the EFA.

He said the plans were shown to the independent South East Regional Design Panel which described them as progressive and fitting of the site, given the constraints they had.

“We are aware it’s fairly simple in form,” he said.

“We have developed a landscape scheme which includes different spaces, seating areas and an ecology garden which will soften the building.”

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