A city grammar school has tonight won planning permission for an ambitious £11 million expansion project that will see the site dramatically transformed and entry levels increased.
Barton Court in Canterbury will overhaul its current layout to create an entirely new front entrance and car park to ease city centre congestion.
School bosses have won approval for a new hall, new canteen, six new classrooms, three new science labs and relocated tennis courts.
Documents lodged with the city council reveal an architect’s impression of how the new building could look.
A key feature involves turning the school “back-to-front”, with pupils, staff, parents and visitors no longer accessing the site from Longport.
Instead, a new entrance and car park near Pilgrims’ Way will be designed to ease pressure on the city’s stifled ring-road system.
Barton Court’s scheme, which was unanimously approved, will create about 30 new grammar places per academic year.
Head teacher Kirstin Cardus previously told KentOnline: “It has always been our longer term vision to not only improve the facilities available to our current students and future students of the school but also to increase the school’s capacity to provide an opportunity for more young people to access our outstanding educational provision.”
Last year Barton Court ditched controversial plans to relocate to a new site in Herne Bay.
It decided instead to focus on improving the infrastructure at the current site.
Karl Elliott, a partner at Canterbury-based Clague Architects, which is drawing up the proposals, says the school layout needs urgent improvement.
“We’re talking about making the school back-to-front,” he told KentOnline earlier this year.
“The current front of the school at Longport becomes the back, and a new front is created at what is now the back by Pilgrim’s Way.
“At the moment you have the main entrance leading to the old school building with a limited car park. Really that building is unsuitable for purpose. The school needs purpose-built structures to meet modern standards.
“It’s an exciting project and unique opportunity for Canterbury.”
Ms Cardus has previously confirmed the scheme will involve a “new entrance” and car parking.
“The car parking will provide enough car parking for staff and visitors and a bus drop-off point which will take a significant amount of traffic away from the main road,” she said.
“This, we believe, will reduce congestion outside the school at peak times but importantly improve the safety for our students.”