Published: 16:49, 15 May 2019
| Updated: 16:49, 15 May 2019
Plans to demolish a crumbling secondary school and replace it with a modernised new-build have been rubber-stamped.
Simon Langton Girls' Grammar School in Canterbury has been granted planning permission to replace three dilapidated buildings dating back to between 1952 and 1970 with a new teaching block and sports hall.
An inspection of the current buildings carried out in autumn 2017 listed more than 600 defects, with parts of the school having fallen into “significant levels of disrepair”.
With the "significant" health and safety concerns in mind, members of Kent County Council's planning committee today green lit the demolition plans.
As well as a new teaching block, the school’s major reconstruction will also see the creation of a sports hall, multi-use games area and landscaped area for outside learning.
KCC's principal planning officer Paul Hopkins said the work will be funded by the government’s priority school building programme for those deemed to be in the "very worst condition".
He said: “There are significant concerns about the concrete structure of the original school building deteriorating.
"The presence of asbestos, window defects, and disrepair to the roof has resulted in the buildings to be deemed beyond economic repair.”
Mr Hopkins went on to say the existing buildings will remain until the construction work is completed, and will only be pulled down once the asbestos is “dealt with in the proper way”.
The new block, which developers hope will mirror the much-loved design of the existing art deco original, will be built on parts of the school’s playing field, playground and car park.
Although the scheme was generally supported during public consultation, The Canterbury Society campaign group objected on the grounds the existing structures were “unique”.
But members of KCC’s planning committee disagreed and unanimously supported the project.
Cllr Rosalind Binks (Con) said: “The buildings that are coming down may have some architectural merit but they haven't lasted very long – and a building lasting 50-70 years is not a particularly great signal to give when others last hundreds.
“I don’t particularly think the new one going up has got huge architectural merit either, but I do think this is very much needed.”
No new selective places will be generated by the development, although councillors have called for improvements to be made to the bus stop outside the school gates in Old Dover Road.
More by this authorDean Kilpatrick, local democracy reporter