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New school in Canterbury approved despite concerns about A257 Littlebourne Road

ByCiaran Duggan, local democracy reporter

A new secondary school in Canterbury will open within two years following the approval of the project this week.

County councillors have given the green light to the plans, which will see 1,050 pupils studying at the site of the former Chaucer Technology School in Spring Lane.

How the new school could look
How the new school could look

However, several members of Kent County Council's planning committee expressed fears over the safety of pupils due to its close proximity to the 40mph A257 between Canterbury and Littlebourne.

But the plans were voted through unanimously during the public meeting at Maidstone County Hall.

The initiative is being spearheaded by the Department for Education and will see the creation of a lecture-style hall housed in a three-storey main school building, along with a drama space, music suite and ICT rooms.

Between 70 and 80 members of staff will be employed and a new two-storey sports hall will be built alongside a multi-use games area (MUGA) and existing playing field.

Ward councillor Ida Linfield (Lib Dem), who represents the area at county level, told the committee the school was "desperately needed", with thousands of homes set to be built to the south of the city.

The overgrown old Chaucer School
The overgrown old Chaucer School

But she said a pedestrian crossing needs to be built at St Martin's Hill on the A257, which she described as "seriously dangerous" and cited several accidents in the last two years, including a fatal crash which killed 19-year-old Kyle Plommer in February 2018.

"Someone will be killed if nothing is done about it," said the councillor, who has long-campaigned for a crossing on the site.

"It's an accident waiting to happen. If someone else were to be injured on that road I would feel a sense of failure and distress.

"But I don't know how much more I can do."

Former Chaucer Technology School teacher Dick Pascoe, who now sits on KCC's planning committee, said he supported the move, while Cllr Paul Bartlett (Con) called for a review to be carried out into the installation of a new pedestrian crossing within six months of the school's opening.

County councillor Ida Linfield beside the busy Littlebourne Road in Canterbury
County councillor Ida Linfield beside the busy Littlebourne Road in Canterbury

However, planning officers said it was not within the "remit" of the applicant to provide mitigation measures along the A-roads in the area, with the A2050 Dover Road also located nearby, but discussions would continue around any potential highways improvements, if required.

In the Maidstone County Hall meeting, they told the committee that agreements were already in place to extend the existing 20mph zone in the area and install double yellow lines around the new school entrance.

Environmental issues were also raised by councillors, particularly concerning the shortage of electric car charging points at the site, with only two originally planned for a car park with 102 spaces for 98 cars and four minibuses.

Subsequently, planning officers amended a condition in the proposal which will mean a "minimum" of two spaces will have to be created.

A total of 750 pupils aged between 11 and 16 will study at the five-form, non-selective secondary school, with a further 300 admitted to a sixth form.

How the new school might look. Picture: Noviun Architects
How the new school might look. Picture: Noviun Architects

The Chaucer School closed in 2015 in the wake of dwindling pupil numbers.

Contractors will begin demolition work at the site on November 25, with work taking place between 8am and 5.30pm on weekdays.

News from our universities, local primary and secondary schools including Ofsted inspections and league tables can be found here.

Read more: All the latest news from Canterbury

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