Published: 05:00, 20 October 2021
| Updated: 15:51, 20 October 2021
A new school which is to open to children for the first time next month has become embroiled in a row over "hazardous" access to the site.
Chilmington Green Primary School, which is currently based in temporary accommodation in Jemmett Road in Ashford, will relocate to new buildings in Mock Lane when pupils return from the half-term break on November 1.
But parents have been left incensed by the lack of safe access to the new school for those coming on foot, with some families even indicating they wish to withdraw their children and find places for them elsewhere.
The dangerous nature of the routes to and from the site is such that Kent County Council has explicitly advised parents to do the school run by car.
A letter to parents, seen by KentOnline, acknowledges that "safe walking routes are not in place" and states that current access "would be considered hazardous".
Alasdair and Katerina MacRae have a three-year-old daughter at the Early Birds Nursery at the school. They are angry the school is being relocated before a safe way to walk there is in place.
Mr MacRae said: "My wife doesn't drive, and I am sure there are other parents at the school who don't drive, and if you're told the only safe access because it's hazardous is to drive, then how do you get your child to school?
"They know that parents are getting, let's say, frustrated, annoyed, whatever, they are starting to say 'well, we are looking at a bus service'.
"If you think of however many kids are at that school, it's going to be absolute chaos first thing in the morning.
"For a council or a school to say that it is a hazardous road, how can they open a school that has got a hazardous road? Where does that make any sense?"
The family, who previously lived in the Netherlands, moved to the new-build Chilmington Green development in December 2020 on the promise of a home in a neighbourhood easily accessible by foot and bicycle.
Housebuilding in the area has not progressed as quickly as envisaged, which has had a knock-on effect in terms of the construction of associated infrastructure for the community.
A KCC spokesman said: "It is naturally disappointing that access to the new school is not as advanced as we had hoped and anticipated.
"However, this situation is beyond our control. It has arisen because the developer has not achieved the number of house sales which would trigger the provision of the planned access to the school.
"In the meantime, our public rights of way team is working on improving established footpaths leading to the school from both sides of the site."
When complete, the Chilmington estate is set to feature 5,750 homes, four primary schools and one secondary school.
As part of the plan, a section of Chart Road between the tank and Matalan roundabouts is to become a dual carriageway to cope with the increase in traffic, but the scheme has been delayed until at least 2022 as Hodson Developments is yet to stump up a security bond.
It will provide the funding once 400 homes have been occupied at the development.